Country legend and Texas icon Ray Wylie Hubbard is getting plenty of well-deserved recognition this year. The book "The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard," by Texas music historian Brian T. Atkinson and featuring forwards by Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle and Hayes Carll, will be released on August 16 via Texas A&M University Press. Today, Wide Open Country is premiering The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Hubbard, a tribute album featuring James McMurtry, The Band of Heathens, Ray Benson, Radney Foster, Bobby Bare, Slaid Cleaves, Terri Hendrix, Rodney Crowell and more.
The album (out on August 16 via Eight 30 Records), produced by Atkinson and Jenni Finlay, honors Hubbard's legacy as a master storyteller and reputation as the Dalai Lama of Red Dirt. The track list reads as a who's who of Lone Star State songwriters, many who no doubt traced the well-worn boot steps of Hubbard -- from Cheatham Street Warehouse writers rounds to the Luckenbach Dance Hall.
James McMurtry takes on the zen road warrior anthem "The Messenger," while Radney Foster covers Hubbard's riotous 2003 track "Screw You, We're From Texas," which gets updated with shout-outs to fellow Texans Kacey Musgraves, Sunny Sweeney, Erykah Badu and Beyonce.
Bobby Bare -- no stranger to recording songs as razor sharp as they are hilarious -- lends his voice to Hubbard's timeless ode to a Texas "reptile house" and roadside attraction, "Snake Farm." The gorgeous and tender "Without Love" by Terri Hendrix is another highlight.
Rodney Crowell, a fellow Texas rule-breaker, closes the album with "In Times of Cold," from 2017's Tell the Devil I'm Gettin' There as Fast As I Can.
Listen to The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Hubbard in full below.