Austin is one of those places people tell you is special right before they explain that isn’t what it used to be. When the good old days stopped—was it the late ‘90s or as far back as the late ‘70s?—depends on who you talk to but make no mistake those days were indeed good. SXSW is underway this weekend and for a reminder of Austin’s wild times and wild men, look no further than Robert Ward’s hugely entertaining feature, “Redneck Rock.” Originally published in New Times magazine on June 25, 1976, and collected in Ward’s fine anthology, Renegades, it appears here—along with an afterward—with the author’s permission.
The out-of-work mechanic with the beer gut, and the four turquoise rings, and the Gene Autry (pink and lime green) cowboy shirt with real pearl buttons, and the mutton chops, and the straight-back greased-down hair, and the big rhinestone belt, is stomping his heels and pounding his motor-oiled ham hock on the bench. “Bring on Jerry Jeff. Jerry Jeff. Jerry Jeff. Play 'Redneck Mother,' Jerry Jeff!”