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Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Hank Williams Jr. tells the story of his 700-mile Southwestern odyssey in a 1975 song called “Clovis, New Mexico.”
Williams recounts how he and his bronc-riding pal, Billy, head out on a very-low-budget adventure that takes them from Bossier City, LA, to Abilene, TX, and finally to Clovis, NM, where Williams is smitten by a black-haired beauty with green eyes — who just happens to be the local purveyor of silver and turquoise jewelry.
He sings, “I needed some strings / Billy wanted a ring / The kind that the Indians made / A voice said hello boys / I’ve got silver and turquoise / And that’s when I saw her face.”
Williams’ trek in an old pickup truck was not scheduled to end up in Clovis, but that’s where he falls in love with a gal he calls “Baby.” He describes her as a “born thriller,” who had a talent for writing lines to songs he couldn’t complete.
“Clovis, New Mexico” was the sixth track on the country singer’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough 1975 album, Hank William, Jr. & Friends. Allmusic editor Thom Jurek wrote that Williams’ release was “one of the best country-rock albums ever made and stands with the best of the outlaw recordings of the era.” It was originally released in 1975 and then re-released in 2000.
Critics claim that the album marks a critical period in Williams’ career when his music veers toward country rock and he develops his own style instead of imitating his famous dad, Hank Williams Sr.
Williams is also a talented musician who can play the guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, keyboards, harmonica, fiddle and drums. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
Born in Shreveport, La., Williams was given the nickname Bocephus as an infant by his dad, who died tragically in 1953 at the age of 29. (Grand Ole Opry fans may remember that Bochephus was the name of the ventriloquist’s dummy that co-starred with comedian Rod Brasfield.)
The 72-year-old is still actively touring, with engagements scheduled in 14 states from the end of May through the middle of August.
We hope you enjoy the audio track of Williams’ performance of “Clovis, New Mexico.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“Clovis, New Mexico”Written and performed by Hank Williams, Jr.
Well me and BillyWe left Bossier CityDecided that we’d head out westBeen east and southBut it didn’t workoutWe were getting’ nowhere fastMe with my guitarAnd him with his saddleTryin’ to out do the restI sang my heart outAnd he rides them broncs nowAnd that’s what me and Billy do best.
We took interstate 20‘Til we ran out of moneyIn a place just past AbileneSo I sang at a honky-tonkAnd he broke the bad broncAnd we bought some gas and some beans.
With a whole lot of luckAnd an old pickup truckWe made it to New MexicoWe pulled up in ClovisAnd I sure didn’t know thisWas as far as I ever would go.
I needed some stringsBilly wanted a ringThe kind that the Indians madeA voice said hello boysI’ve got silver and turquoiseAnd that’s when I saw her face.
That’s when I noticedThat girl down in ClovisA black haired beautyShe set a fire to meA green eyed ladyIn old jeans that were fadedNo I didn’t noticeWhat happened in ClovisBut I called her baby.
I asked her with careIf she’d like to shareAn evening with someone like II said I ain’t a winnerJust a hard livin’ singerShe smiled and said meet me at nineWe ate tacos and talkedAnd then we took a walkIn the clean southwestern airThen we went back to her houseI took my guitar outAnd sang of my joy and despair.
She served me her wineAnd she helped me write linesTo songs I could not completeAnd her eyes seemed to sayPut that guitar awayThat’s somethin’ that both of us need.
What a beautiful siteWas her face in the lightAnd the candles there on the wallAnd we reached the heightOf good love on that nightAnd I hope we never will part.
And I’m glad I noticedThat girl down in ClovisDaughter of a drillerShe’s a born thrillerA green eyed ladyKinda wild, kinda lazyI didn’t noticeWhat happened in ClovisBut I called her baby.Baby.
Credit: Photo by Andrea Klein, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.