But after high school, Hancock, not exactly the bookish type ("I hated school"), headed off for six years in the Marine Corps. He did stints in Hawaii and Japan with the former having an influence on his music.
A few songs display that sound. "The Hawaiian steel guitar," Hancock said. "(In) all the old hillbilly music, they used to use it in the '40's. I thought it was a forgotten thing. Then, when I was in the military in Hawaii, there were a lot of people there who played it."
Hancock continued playing music in the military, but was not cut out for military life. "Killing people is not really what I'm into...I don't like people telling me what to do every day of my life," he said.
He drifted "all over the place. I came back to Texas, and I drank a lot. So much that my parents didn't want me around any more. I did a lot of bad things. Stuff like pulling guns on people in parking lots, really stupid kids stuff. It was just a stupid thing to do. I was at a place (a bikers bar) I shouldn't have been at."
He did odd jobs such as being an iron worker in Florida, filling up yachts with fuel, landscaping, even a Merry Maid cleaner. "That was really funny," he said. "That was an experience I'll never forget."
Hancock ventured to Austin in 1991 and did a few more jobs while still playing music. His last job was tree trimming. The only problem was there was no pay day. "I figured this is ridiculous," he said. "I could make $150 a night singing. I just gave it all up and did music."
"That's when all my troubles began," he said jokingly.
He played clubs - "real dives, bars where people could care less about what you were doing."His first gig there was getting $10 to open for Rusty Weir.
Hancock also made some friends on the Austin scene, including Joe Ely, which led to a career surge. Ely was involved in the stage production of "Song For Chippy." Jimmie Dale Gilmore played Mr. Jukebox, but once he was nominated for a Grammy, he was out of the picture, apparently needing to devote more time to his music.
"They thought I would be a good guy for the part, and that's how I got it," Hancock said. "It couldn't have happened at a better time. I was really down and out at that point."
The show went to Philadelphia and Lincoln Center in New York. Hancock also gained notoriety for his contributions to the soundtrack, one of which was the title track of his debut.
Hancock received interest from several labels, including Warner and Elektra, for whom he did demos. "These guys wanted to develop me," he said. "You know what that means. It was just like being in the military."
At one point, he toured with Asleep at the Wheel, an experience which left him jaded due to low pay and poor work conditions.
How Hancock's career took an upward turn stemmed from a fight with Foley. She went to San Marcos to go to a movie and ran into people from Captive Audience, a music management company.
One thing led to another. "Everything began to fall into place," he said. "It's been almost kind of a fantasy for the last seven months. This is fantasy. It's supposed to be that people recognize your talent, and they're hip to the sound, and you get good press, rather than go into Nashville and them taking your ideas and making it their own and fitting into their category."
Hancock has toured mainly around Texas. He hit several major cities, such as Cleveland, the Boston area and New York in December and intends to hit the road again in the new year pursuing music, not odd jobs and the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of some of his musical heroes.
He admits to being surprised about the critical acclaim. "I'm very surprised," he said. "I knew the record would do good, but I didn't know it would do this good. That's how I thought it was supposed to be. I'm actually thrilled to pieces people actually like the record."
"My dream has come true," Hancock said. "My ship has come in. Hopefully, I won't trip on the pier and fall off."