The Man From San Benito: A Charley Crockett Birthday Six-Pack

Slingin’ old school blues-drenched country twang, channeling Texas cowboy poets, or simply firin’ off a signature honky tonk grin lickety-split, Charley Crockett roams planet Earth in a class all his own. And since nobody can tell you better, here’s a six-pack o’ songs and stories straight from Lil’ G.L. himself! Happy Birthday, Charley!

1. “Trinity River”

“Trinity River” originally appeared on Crockett’s 2015 full-length debut A Stolen Jewel but was supremely resurrected for his latest album The Man From Waco.

“The first record I ever put out– it’s tough on the ears, but it got me out there– was called A Stolen Jewel, and the song ‘Trinity River’ on there was the first one that people started playin’ on the radio just organically. I’d written ‘Trinity River’ off of the inspiration of [Justin Townes Earle’s] ‘Harlem River Blues’. Really, Justin Townes was my path. He was the guy that I looked at in my transition from the street to professionally touring.”

— from “Golden Rules & True Faith: Charley Crockett’s Music City USA”

2. “Wreck Me”

Charley wrote “Wreck Me” from 2020’s Welcome To Hard Times with his longtime girlfriend now fiancee Taylor Grace.

“Taylor is a great songwriter in her own right. She’s writin’ all the time. And actually, we were sittin’ down in Key West for Mile 0, sittin’ around the hotel room and I was just flippin’ around through some voice memos– ’cause I got thousands of them in there. I’m scannin’ through them, clickin’ on ’em, and, ‘Ahhh, that’s not goin’ to work… Nah, that one’s no good…’ And I was playin’ over this little half-idea called ‘Wreck Me’. I’d played over it, and then I stopped and was gonna go on to the next one and that’s when she was like, ‘Wait, what was that right there?’ And I was like, ‘That last one?’ She’s like, “Yeah. That’s a hit.” So I pulled it back up, wrote down what I’d written and we finished it together! And you know, a lotta DJs are playin’ it! Some folks say it’s the best one on the record.”

–from “Charley Crockett: ‘I didn’t need the revelations of 2020 to write about the things goin’ on in America’”

3. “Slim’s Lament”

In 2021, Charley released 10 For Slim, a tribute collection of songs written by his friend and mentor Texas icon James Hand, who passed away on June 8th, 2020. 

“That was a song that [Hand] had not titled that he demoed out on his cell phone and sent me about a week before he passed. Me and Billy Horton, who recorded the record and produced it with me in Wyldwood, Texas, we decided to include it because we thought, “Well, it’s a dark song but also it’s very prophetic.” I think it also shows you how good his songwriting was at the end of his life.”

–from “Charley Crockett and the Ghost of the Greatest Honky Tonker in the World”

4. “I Won’t Cry”

“With country music and soul music, depending on the day, I might bust out some George Jones, and the next day, I might be tryin’ to tap into Ray Charles! ‘I Won’t Cry’, originally, I wrote it a few years ago– and I’d forgotten about it! I was with Mark Neill down in Valdosta, and I think he really wanted to pull that side of me out a little more. So I found this old song that I’d probably written five years ago– and we were listening to a lot of Ray Charles there at his studio downtown. I re-looked at that song and that’s what he was sayin’, like, ‘Let’s really try to tap into Ray and Otis!’ Which they’re untouchable! But you can at least get the feelin’.”

— from “Golden Rules & True Faith: Charley Crockett’s Music City USA”

5. “Lonely In Person”

“Here’s the trip about ‘Lonley In Person’, that’s another one of my favorite songs. That’d be another one that I would’ve pushed to the radio myself– but I’m ignorant, what do I know about what they’ll spin, HA! But we didn’t know that was a Tom T. Hall song! Taylor Grace found that on this very obscure box set of recordings from this label called Rice Records [The Rice Records Story], and she goes, ‘This is your song. You gotta sing this.’

–from “Washed Anew: Charley Crockett Loads His Jukebox with Rarities”

6. “The Poplar Tree”

“The Poplar Tree” was written by Crockett and fellow Texas artist Dallas Burrow.

“I was out in the Davis Mountains, out in West Texas near Big Bend and the Chihuahuan Desert writin’ ‘The Poplar Tree’. I was sendin’ [Dallas Burrow] voice recordings of my ideas, and he was just firin’ back! I just blended his stuff in with mine, into that narrative and finished that one off. That’s probably some of the best writin’ that I’ve done. I think it shows you what you can do with a friend that you respect and believe in as a songwriter, what you can do together when you’ve got that kind of trust and respect.”

–from “Charley Crockett: ‘I didn’t need the revelations of 2020 to write about the things goin’ on in America’”