Letters: Wednesday, May 8, 2003
Totalibrarian State

To the editor: Dan Malone’s piece on current library surveillance campaigns (“Spies in the Stacks,” April 17, 2003) is a chilling record of this nation’s increasing acceptance of Big Brother’s totalitarian intervention in the name of protecting freedom. The quoted librarians appear to realize this, but they seem to be living up to their public image of being timid and mousy. One wonders what sort of retribution from the FBI the quoted critic David Price will be subjected to. These are times where those few who dare to speak out are increasingly coming under surveillance.

Theo Saunders

Lake Jackson

Prince and the Prophet

To the editor: I enjoyed Jeff Prince’s article on Willie Nelson in your May 1, 2003, issue (“Poet, Picker, Prophet”). Although I’m a couple of years older than Prince, I discovered Willie about the same time and consider him to be the second greatest gift of my life right behind my wife, whom I met at a Willie concert. (She may beg to differ, as she has always feared that, if I were to have the opportunity, I would be gone with Willie in a heartbeat.)

Although Willie’s recent albums have not received the commercial success of earlier years, almost all of them have buried in them a gem or two, which made them worth acquiring.

Regarding Willie’s recent live performances, I can assure you that he still knows every chord and note to all of his songs and hundreds of others. A 10-minute appearance at a Farm Aid benefit with a carnival show of others, after being up for 18 to 24 hours involved in the preparation and running of such a benefit, is not a basis for evaluation.

The best place to experience Willie is in an old-fashioned Texas honky-tonk or an outside venue. His performances frequently last in excess of two hours and can be described only as phenomenal. Willie is truly a Guitar God!

Now if the Texas Legislature would get with it and vote Willie an exemption to the marijuana laws, as they should have 30 years ago, maybe he would stay home and play in Texas more! (By the way the Whiskey River album that Prince referred to was actually titled Shotgun Willie.) Regards.

Bill Guinn


Editor’s note: Although the article stated that Willie’s post-1980s albums tapered off in quality, Prince agrees that there are gems to be found on all his albums. The critique of Willie’s live performances was based on several concerts Prince attended in the past five years. And yes, Willie still displays more soul than 90 percent of the guitarists out there.

To the editor: Thanks for writing a part of my own Fort Worth adolescence that I thought would never get the attention it deserves. I was 14 in 1973, and your words echo so many of my own experiences, it’s kinda frightening. I think what I liked most about the rise of the “Austin scene” was that it was indigenous music that did not gloss over the cruelties, absurdities, and simple beauties of Texas, like the country music immediately proceeding it did (but not the real thing from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s — Willie turned me on to Bob Wills). It spoke honestly to sights and sounds and people that were all around me, when the state still had a semi-rural present tense to it. Almost every peer I knew had an aunt and uncle or grandpa and grandma who lived in the country on gravel roads and drank well water. It made that Texas cool and romantic to an otherwise rebellious teen-ager.

KAFM was truly a great station and I’ve been waiting for something like it since it departed. To hear the entire “Texas Trilogy” on the air again!

I eventually worked for an environmental group that one of Willie’s daughters founded and got to fool around with the Man and his crowd at a golf tourney fundraiser at his studio/ranch. I actually got the job of helping to clean up a little before the event, including emptying the ashtrays. It was truly a memorable day.

Thanks again for writing so well about a time that had a profound influence on me as well.

Jim Schermbeck


To the editor: Great article on Willie! I’ve been singing “I’d Have to Be Crazy” (written by Steven Fromholz) and dedicating it to Steve and Willie all week! Steven is doing good by all reports and is expected to be back to 100 percent soon. Thanks.

Tommy Alverson


Editor’s note: Fromholz suffered a mild stroke on April 19.

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