Book Review: Ray Wylie Hubbard “A Life….Well, Lived.”
“My gratitude is far higher than my expectations ever were.”
Beloved Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new book a life….well, lived. was released on November 2nd via his own imprint, Bordello Records. Written with Thom Jurek the portable, relatively short tome chronicles Hubbard’s life thus far from boyhood in Oklahoma and Dallas to include well, as much as Hubbard wanted to write. It’s a memoir that you can’t put down, but one that you also don’t want to end.
a life….well, lived. has an extremely unique three piece alternating format. There are the pages written by Ray: free flowing road stories, with minimal punctuation and void of capitalization (for a glimpse check out his FB posts) told as he writes, “the way i kinda remember it,” then there are those chapters written in traditional narrative form and finally, there are song lyrics that fit nicely with what follows.
With his guitar, Hubbard is not only musician, but poet and storyteller… something that translates extremely well here. The same intimacy and integrity that is present at his live shows emanates from the pages and will have you feeling as if he is talking to you face to face. He is witty, incredibly dry and naturally funny so be prepared–there are copious one-liners and many, many occasions when you will literally burst out laughing (particularly the “whore dog gig” and the Baptismal font story).
In addition to the humor, there are the heartfelt and honest to God touching moments. One learns of his childhood, working in New Mexico, his time as a member of the Cowboy Twinkies and playing sets in between lingerie shows. Then there’s the death of his father which finds him going deeper into booze and drugs, “I thought cocaine was the answer to my drinking problem, but it just gave my booze legs.” Ultimately, he joins AA, experiences a spiritual awakening and turns his will and life to a higher power to guide his actions and thoughts. In the midst of completing the twelve steps, Hubbard meets Judy and eventually has a son (the love and admiration he has for the two of them pours off of the page), takes formal guitar lessons and begins to see his career moving in the right direction.
Hubbard doesn’t proselytize. He tells his own story and what has worked for him…but it does make you think about one’s own behaviors. He truly appreciates life’s moments, admits when he is in the wrong, yet won’t stand for being wronged, has happiness, frustrations, and learns life lessons. The biggest take away being something he writes near the conclusion: that the purpose of the universe is to contribute to life by giving. Make a commitment, set goals, take action and amazing things will happen. He writes all of this “metaphysical-spiritual-badass-mumbo-jumbo kind of juju to get your mojo working” in relation to his formula/equation (yes, with multiplication, addition and subtraction) for being a prosperous songwriter, but really it’s something that can be applied to us all.
Grit and groove. Tone and taste. They’re here along with heart, soul and gratitude. A life well lived indeed.
This post originally appeared on The Daily Country