I was in the car yesterday taking a trip to South Austin, and I had the radio tuned to 98.1 KVET, a local country station here in Austin. On most occasions, I pretty much tune out when this music is playing, but they had a decent mix of new and old country songs playing, so I happened to be paying a little bit more attention than usual. At one point, a song came on that I was actually quite impressed with. Shocking, right?
I have a soft spot in my heart for Texas country music, an aspect of my musical landscape that was nurtured and nearly unavoidable in my days as a high school student in Austin and then an undergrad at Texas A&M University. There I gained massive respect for such Texas artists as Robert Earl Keen Jr., Pat Green (in his pre-Nashville days), Cory Morrow, Bruce and Charlie Robison, Kelly Willis, Roger Creager, and Jack Ingram, as well as the old Texas Outlaws, Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Guy Clark, and others.
It’s difficult for me to define beyond geography what makes up the Texas Country genre, but there is a specific indescribable sound to it that makes it easily identifiable when I hear it. The song that caught my attention was called “In My Arms Instead” by Texas group the Randy Rogers Band. I had heard some of their music before, such as their biggest hit “Kiss Me in the Dark”. While this song is not particularly offensive and adheres to most of the Texas Country guidelines, it really just didn’t leave much of an impression on me, so I was very surprised to learn that this was the same band that recorded “In My Arms Instead”.
Beginning with a quiet acoustic guitar and fiddle intro and then leading into a shuffling drum beat, lead singer Randy Rogers begins singing in a longing and plaintive voice about the oncoming cold weather and the love that slipped away. The song tells the sad story of a lost lover whose memory will not leave the singer: “I’m just not the same/I walk down these streets/I swear I hear your name/but it’s just in my head/I wish you were in my arms instead.” No new territory there, but it’s a simple yet effective song, and the musical flourishes are kept to a minimum besides a short Telecaster interlude.
The real star of the song is Randy Rogers’s voice. It’s both haunting and a little bit unsteady, qualities which help Rogers sell the lonely persona of the narrator and give the impression that Rogers may break into tears at any moment. It’s rare these days that you find a young country artist singing with the type of conviction and genuine emotion once encountered in the great country songs of old sung by the likes of George Jones.
It was a pleasant surprise to find a song on modern country music radio that I like so much. Internet research would later reveal that this is the first single released on their upcoming self-titled album, their second for Mercury Nashville. I don’t see this being a huge hit for the Randy Rogers Band, if only because the country music landscape has shifted so far towards rock and pop that a simple, pretty little country tune will probably not get the airplay of the next Sugarland or Big & Rich wankfest. Despite that fact, I think “In My Arms Instead” is a wonderful little song, and I’m glad that KVET is doing its part to support up and coming Texas artists like the Randy Rogers Band with a little playing time.
You can stream “In My Arms Instead” from the following links:
Randy Rogers Band – “In My Arms Instead” (RealPlayer, higher quality)
Randy Rogers Band – “In My Arms Instead” (Windows Media Player)