Throwback Thursday – Terry Allen – Human Remains
1. Terry Allen is West Texas. For those who haven’t spent much time out there, nothing is very surprising once you pass Eastland on I-20. Upended Cadillacs pressed into the caprock? Sure. Runaway longhorns on the access road? Absolutely. Inexplicable light formations? In several places. That’s why Terry Allen’s music continues to bring the unexpected, and 1996’s Human Remains is no different.
2. Allen opens up with the defining line “Hey I don’t need no chickenshit business man/ tellin’ me what to do” in “Gone To Texas”, with a backing choir featuring the Talking Heads’ David Byrne and roots mainstay Lucinda Williams. Lu also accompanies on the shuffling “Room to Room”, in which a man faces his inability to blame his wife for her carousing. Allen isn’t afraid to express how the world looks through his ever-present glasses, trying to understand the perspective of a hostile 13-year-old on “Crisis Site 13″, spitting “I’m 13 and I’m in love and I hope you die.” “After the Fall” takes a sarcastic look at what people have done in the name of being “cool”, as Allen subtly questions what is cool? Being an against the grain sculptor/Flatlander mentor/playwright/honky tonker? Absolutely.
3. If the album has a thesis statement, it comes on the closer “Flatland Boogie”, which finds Allen and his “baby” flying across the Panhandle in his old Ford, fast enough that “some old angel from Amarillo must be helpin us to hold it on the road”. He laments the passing of time, with a crack at the current radio offerings, while noticing that nothing ever really changes between Texas and Mexico. But when he says “Headlights a’ shinin’/ On all we ever need to know”, he manages to discount his sarcastic worldview and simplify things, which in west Texas, is a way of life.
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