Doug Sahm left his home in Texas in 1968. Busted for marijuana possession, something that carried a lot more weight back then, he headed toward the Frisco Bay, where the longhairs weren’t a novelty to the people that were on the scene. Like any expatriate, his mind drifted back to where he belonged, a place that seemed a lot more romantic now that he was living in exile.
Mendocino, the first record the Sir Douglas Quintet cut for Smash/Mercury in 1969, is filled with songs about his hometowns: Sahm knows he’s just a country boy in this great big freaky city and comes to the realization you can’t live in Texas unless you’ve got a lot of soul, a line Waylon Jennings lifted a few years later when he wanted to shore up his outlaw ties to the land that lies south of the Red River. Most of all, Sahm wonders what happened to the real old “Texas Me,” a thought that strikes him as he floats through California while dreaming of the Hill Country and Gulf Coast.
Opening with fiddles that saw across a honky tonk hardwood floor, “Texas Me” isn’t strictly country: Augie Meyers leans into his Hammond for R&B chords that sustain the single throughout its two and a half minutes and Sir Doug sings the song as if it were a blues, and maybe it is. Certainly, Sahm spends “Texas Me” feeling out of sorts, pining for the rain in Port Arthur as he watches the fog roll across Venice Beach. His homesickness is palpable. When he’s singing about Sausalito, there’s pain and once he gets to Houston, he may be penniless, but he’s at home: there’s a joy when he says “not a dime do I own,” because like so many Texans, he’d rather be broke in San Antone than flush in San Francisco.
It’s all a dream–but that’s why “Texas Me” is a better anthem for the Lone Star State than any song grounded in reality. Texas isn’t simply a state–or a nation–it is an ideal, a place where cowboys, Chicanos and children of the blues all coexist, hopefully in harmony. More than any other Texas musician–and that includes Willie Nelson, who copped a move or two from him–Doug Sahm existed at this crossroads, which makes him a pure Texan and “Texas Me” is his everlasting valentine to his home.