Charley Crockett Tells The Story of His First Record Deal
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Charley Crockett made his Austin City Limits debut on Wednesday July 27th, and those lucky enough to be sitting in front of their computer or phone at the time were able to watch the entire video stream live online.

The great thing about watching one of these recordings either streaming or in person is that you get a full set of songs instead of what is put together for the half hour televised presentation, along with all of the banter between songs that are sometimes among the best Parts.

Such was the case with Charley Crockett, who, after coming out to perform an encore song, told a story behind one of the songs on his upcoming album Country Music USA, due for release on September 17th. It's also a story about signing his first recording deal. The story-inspired song was called "Are We Lonesome Yet," and after Crockett initially hesitated to reveal the inspiration for the song, Crockett was spurred on by the cheers of the crowd and opened up.

Crockett said that while many musicians' backstories have been embellished, if at all, they have been toned down. As a guy who drove trains and played street corners for years before someone put a microphone in front of him, he has a lot of stories to tell.

Charley Crockett said:

I built this from a street corner in Louisiana. I built this on the back streets. I sweat about every trace of this nation – this great, beautiful nation. And it's not always nice, but it's nice to me.

And the first deal I ever signed was right in front of a railroad car in New York, believe it or not, in the canopy of the concrete jungle they call Manhattan. And I remember being in this office with this powerful, powerful person. And she hit her office desk with her fists and said, 'Charley Crockett, it's a world of Coke and Pepsi. It's a Barnum and Bailey world. And I don't know if you're ready. '

And I said, 'Well, ma'am, I don't know if I'm ready either.'

She said, "Charley, I just want malleability from you."

And I said, 'Ma’am, I don't even know what malleability is. But I do not like it.'

And so she hands me this clipping from the New York Times, and it was an article celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. And she hands it over to me, she says: "Do you know what your problem is, Charley?" And I said: "No, ma’am, but I think you will tell me in a moment."

And she gave me the note and said, 'You just want to be Woody Guthrie.' And I said, 'Ma'am, this is the first and last compliment you'll ever pay me.'

I never saw her again, and I'm sorry I was the rough young man I was then … Well, I'm really not that sorry.

Then Charley Crockett played the song "Are We Lonesome Yet" only with his acoustic guitar.

The big city made it really difficult for me
Filled with people as far as the eye can see
Electric billboards selling what's next
You really say are we lonely yet?

Charley Crockett also recently said, “Growing up in Texas, Austin City Limits has been the backdrop to our lives. It was so far out of my reach. Much like the Grand Ole Opry, maybe even more so. When they asked me in January if I was ready to do late night TV, I told them I didn't care. They said, 'Well, what do you want then?!?' I replied, 'I just want Austin City Limits on PBS like Willie and George and Johnny and Freddy and Gatemouth !!!' Two months later they got us into season 47. "

Hopefully when the actual Austin City Limits episode airs it will contain Charley Crockett's story. But if not, it had to be kept somewhere for posterity. Maybe there's a little innocent embellishment in there, or maybe it's 100% true. But either way, it's 100% Charley Crockett who is always 100% himself, which is what makes him so interesting and engaging.

Stay tuned for the date the Austin City Limits episode starring Charley Crockett airs.


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