Is it possible to have your favorite place in the entire world be somewhere you’ve never been? That’s how I feel about Texas. No, I’ve never been there. I’ve visited New Mexico, I flew over in when I went from Fort Lauderdale to Denver, but I’ve never touched Texas soil. I continue to hear stories about the freest state in the union. Stories of sad country songs and cowboys. Stories of rodeo, Friday night football at the local high school, and a slow cooked brisket by a bonfire. But no, I’ve never been to the great state of Texas.
I’ve been a huge Cody Johnson fan since somewhere between 2013-2015. As I’m sure most of his older followers did, I was introduced to CoJo with “Diamond in my Pocket.” That led to some of my favorite songs, “Dance Her Home,” “Never Go Home Again,” and “Jesus Ain’t Watching” among many more. After having Cojo on repeat for months I decided to take a deeper dive into Texas. Surly if Cojo is a hidden gem, there had to be others, right? There absolutely are. At the time I got into Granger Smith and Aaron Watson, right before both dabbled in the mainstream success. More recently Texas has been on a heater with artists. Parker McCollum, Kolby Cooper, Corey Kent, and Casey Donahew are all on the way to being household names all over the country. The entire Texas country music industry is a sleeping giant, and as artists like Chase Rice, Ernest, and Warren Zeiders are even trying to develop styles made popular in the Lone Star State. The “Don’t Mess With Texas” playlist on apple music right now is my favorite, mixing national stars with up and coming artists like Austin Meade.
The music isn’t the only thing about Texas that I love, bull riding is the best. PBR is the best show on dirt. Anytime a human wants to sit on a 2000-pound animal who wants to kill you I’m in. Right now, my boy Andrew Alvidrez is sitting 5th in the world in the PBR standings. Jose Vitor Leme, maybe the greatest bull rider ever, is positioning himself to win a third world title in just four years. Someday I’ll make it out to the World Finals, but until then I’ll just have to settle for the events in New York around me.
General rodeo is badass as well. I’m certainly not knowledgably in it like I am PBR, but i watched Jimmy in Yellowstone one time. team roping is a sick event, two cowboys having to be perfectly in sync to knock down a calf as fast as possible. Its art to me. Barrell racing, which we do actually have around us up here in Connecticut is another favorite of mine. Rodeo is just sick because it’s all about teamwork between man and animal, or conquering animals trying to cause you harm, in a beautiful way.
I love the art of ranching as well. In forestry, we learn that there is a balance between art and science in writing a management plan. It’s the same as ranching, theres a balance between raising cattle in an efficient and practical way, but also still doing it the cowboy way. I love knowledge, and I love people that are able to maintain tradition while also evolving with the times. Obviously not every rancher is this way, some haven’t changed the way things are run since the 1800s. I also enjoy the romanticized parts of ranching. Last November, I sat in a hottub on a backpoarch, overlooking at least 100 head of cattle, with the mountains in the background. It unlocked a part of me that I never knew was there. I strive to someday own a ranch like that and feel that way again. Sure, its hardwork, but when you were raised on working hard everyday you can overcome that.
I’m sure Texas isn’t all glits and glamor. I’m sure that it’s a lot less like Broadway in Nashville and Yellowstone and much more of a grind. Still, I can’t imagine what its like to fire up the truck at 4 am, drive out to check the herd with Aaron Watson blasting out the speakers. Cowboy hat on the top and cowboy boots on the bottom. Then on Sunday going to a Rangers or Cowboys game to celebrate another hard week of work done. Can you love something you’ve never been apart of? Is Texas everything that I want it to be? Maybe someday I’ll find out, but for now, God Bless Texas.