Texas In 1880

Album: The Essential Foster & Lloyd (2001)
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Songfacts®:

  • Despite the incredibly vivid picture this song paints, "It's not really a rodeo song," says singer/songwriter Radney Foster. "This is really a song about dreamers. It is a rodeo song, but it's just about people who are willing to sacrifice everything for a dream. And I think dreams are worth sacrificing heart and soul, and poverty and all kinds of other things that we put up with or sacrifice in order to obtain them."

    Foster's mother's best friend was worried about him going into the entertainment industry, and while he was packing his bags on the eve of cutting his first record, she paid him a visit. Says Foster, "She told me just to be careful. She said, 'Radney, that music business is just like rodeoing; it'll get in your blood and you can't get it out.' And she should have known, because she had kids riding all over the state of Texas and Oklahoma rodeoing in high school. So that just really stuck with me."
  • Foster never did ride in a rodeo, but his family and upbringing brought him closer to that world than most. Says Foster: "I was a rancher's kid, my grandfather was a rancher, and I sure did chase my fair share of cows. And I roped - very badly. And I was put to work, as teenagers are needed, when they're needed. But my first cousin rides rodeo, and two guys that I went to high school with were PRCA cowboys. And the guy who really is the whole Super Bowl, the pro bull rider association guy, who's very, very involved in that, grew up down the street from me. Ollie Smith won the Best All-Around Cowboy Cavalry Stampede when I was a sophomore in college. The whole bridge in the song where it talks about 'someone's gonna see that buckle hanging around your belt,' well, those buckles that they used to give aren't near as big as the ones they get now, because they're really like trophies now. You can actually wear 'em."

    And the pride of rodeo champions past and present never diminishes. "There's a skinny guy with a wife and kids in Del Rio that ranches about 15,000 acres that drives a beat-up pickup truck, and work shirt and jeans," says Foster. "But on that belt, if you ever notice when he's dressed up on a Saturday night to go someplace... let's see, it was 1953 World Champion Bull Rider. So it was a pretty impressive deal, like winning the Super Bowl. So that's a cool thing, to grow up around those guys."
  • The title of this song came about when Foster was at a dinner party. According to Foster, during the conversation somebody said, "It's so wild, like Texas back in the 1880s." And a song was born. (Thanks to Radney for talking with us about this song. Get much more in our full interview with Radney Foster.)

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