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Ray Wylie Hubbard "suffers" from "Delerium"

By Tom Geddie, January 2005

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Hubbard co-wrote one song, "Cooler-N-Hell," with Canada. He also pulled out one of his old songs, "Dallas After Midnight," as a duet with Ingram and recut the more recent "Dust of the Chase."

He recorded the original "Dallas After Midnight," which is more or less about a liquor store robbery, more than 20 years ago with the Lost Gonzo Band.

"I kind of pulled it out of a hat at a live gig a while back and played it," he says. "Then I ran into Jack and thought if I were going to rob a liquor store, he'd be the kid I'd do it with."

Hubbard claims that the other voices "make me legitimate, to tell the truth. It just makes it really cool for me to have these people I respect show up without too much begging on my part."

Spirituality is a recurring theme in Hubbard's songs, whether on a mythical or personal level. Religion is not.

"I prefer the term spiritual awakening to religious conversion," he says. "I'm just not into religion - any of them - but I really try to, you know, stay awake. I read a lot about comparative religions and spirituality, all that stuff. I don't really talk about it a lot. I read a quote by someone who said if somebody tells you they've found God, run away from them as fast as you can."

The seeking is a way of taking control of his own life.

Hubbard had his 15 minutes of fame and then some. He kept making a living with his music. He got tired of playing that song.

"Somewhere in there I started drinking heavily and experimenting with amphetamines. I did that for 25 years, and stayed in an alcohol and drug fog," he says. "On my 41st birthday in 1987, I quit drinking and drugging. I had some help and got sober. I came out of this fog and thought about what was going on with me. What I really started out to be was a folksinger and songwriter. But I got off the track."

Two years later, at 43, he read an inspirational book, "As A Man Thinketh," by James Allen, and "Letters to a Young Poet," by Rainier Maria Rilke.

"I carry the Rilke with me on the road," Hubbard says. "I've read his poetry; it's really wonderful, but a lot of it is just beyond me. But in 'Letters To A Young Poet,' he says some things that make it okay for you to write for nothing else except the sake of the writing. When I feel like a writing frame of mind is coming on, I'll read Rilke."

Hubbard also took his first guitar lesson when he was 43 and began to actually study songwriting.

"A lot of the songs - 'Dust Of The Chase,' 'The Messenger,' 'Just To Hold You' - weren't there until I learned how to finger pick," he says. "I set this goal to be a songwriter, not a Nashville briefcase songwriter, but when you say Texas songwriters you think of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Those are the guys I wanted to emulate. Nobody will ever surpass them, but I said I wanted to be a writer like that. I looked up what I needed to do, and one of the things was playing the guitar better, and another was the craft of writing lyrics, the structure of songs."

He used to be just plain ol' Ray Hubbard until two things happened just about the same time.

"When Jerry Jeff did 'Viva Terlingua' back in 1973, he introduced 'Redneck Mother' by saying, 'This is a song by Ray Wylie Hubbert (with the t). About the same time, they were building Lake Ray Hubbard, just east of Dallas, and I didn't want people to mistake me for a lake."

Hubbard and his wife, Judy, stay busy with the music, the business side of the music and with son Lucas' baseball and basketball games.

Hubbard hosts a Tuesday night radio show on KNBT in Gruene in the Texas Hill Country, claiming the show is his wife's doing.

"It was Judy's idea because it gets me out of the house on Tuesday nights," he says. "I asked the program director, Matson Rainer, why he didn't do acoustic folk and blues. He invited me to do it, and I have fun with it. We've had 15-20 people in the studio, from local bluegrass guys to Johnny Bush to Slaid Cleaves to Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines."

The Hubbards also plan to re-release some of his earliest work in the next year or so, if they get around to it.

"We're going to do it because a bunch of people want to hear the old stuff," he says. "We just have to figure out the best way to do it - even if it's just on the web site (raywylie.com) where people can download it free. We may turn it over to the people and have them vote on what to release, like 'West Texas Dance Band' or 'Freeway Church of Christ.' That's still kinda on the back burner."

So, what's on the front burner?

The new CD. Lots of Texas and national performances. A European tour in the spring. Writing some new songs. And/or finding some more old ones to record. Making time for some of Lucas' basketball games. Maybe a visit to get acquainted with an East Texas DJ.

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