I came to Rodney Crowell through the movie Heartworn Highways – it’s a movie I love first because Townes Van Zandt is in it, and second, because I generally really like the Texas songwriter style (dark country folk) that characterizes most of the artists featured in the movie. “Bluebird Wine” is the song Rodney performed in the movie that made me remember him, and I was pretty excited to see him in person – his music and persona did not disappoint. Like his musical peers, he carries himself with a wry poetic intelligence as reflected in his song lyrics and his spoken interludes between songs. He’s very funny. He has recently been writing with a woman named Mary, who is a professor of English, and similarly grew up in a godforsaken Texas town with an alcoholic parent. They wrote a song that they imagined Hank Williams would have written had he ever gotten sober, which was an amusing idea. Vince Neil was the artist who actually sang this song on their latest release, and Rodney summed this experience up with Mary’s words: “Fuck Vince Neil” – which also summarizes the divide between mainstream country and these ‘outlaw country’ singers. Rockboy noted that he seems to be more of a songwriter than a singer, in the tradition of Kristofferson, although his singing was pleasant. In addition to the joy of seeing this man, I was experiencing the joy of being at my favorite place for in-stores after a year away from Austin – all of the regulars were there, getting as much of the free beer as they could. Every time I would applaud, I had an inexplicable urge to scream, “I love you Austin” (a la “That 70s Show”). Rodney diverged into the story of his former wife, Roseanne Cash (Johnny Cash’s daughter), telling us how he had the good or bad fortune to introduce her to her next husband. He joked that when the three of them get together, her new husband thanks him, and Rodney turns right around and thanks her new husband. He prefaced his last song by telling us that Guy Clark (another one of the artists featured in Heartworn Highways) had lost his wife, Suzanne Clark, only a few nights before. They had all been friends for decades and Rodney’s voice started breaking as he explained how Suzanne had been the muse not only for Guy, but for all of the guys, and that he was going to sing a song he had never performed for the public but that he used to sing to her. It was something about an angel and his obvious pain seemed so genuine and evident, what could I do but cry. I was mortified to be crying at Waterloo (there’s no crying in Waterloo) but was somewhat relieved to see that half of the crowd was wiping at their eyes by the end of the performance when Rodney just wasn’t able to go on.