Comin’ Right At Ya: How a Jewish Hippie Went Country, or the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel
by Ray Benson & David Menconi
University of Texas Press
There might be stranger musical journeys than the one that took a nearly 7 foot tall Jewish pot smoker from Philadelphia to becoming the Official Texas Musician of the Year in 2004- but I doubt they are as funny- and uncensored- as Ray Benson’s, leader of the formidable Asleep At the Wheel, the renegade Western Swing band.
Benson is a natural storyteller, and his account of the years of toil, bad decisions and scraping by that he and AATW went thru on their way to Grammy wins and their place as the natural continuation of the music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys is a winner. The lanky guitarist looks back at deathly tour buses, stupid career choices (such as appearing in the movie Roadie instead of Urban Cowboy, oops), the scores of past players and famous friends such as Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and more, and has the reader rolling with his deadpan “whatever” mentality.
Benson and AATW are renowned for their mixture of classic country and Western Swing today, but they faced an uphill battle all the way, and along the way it honed and toughened revolving cast of characters- and as Benson shows, they were indeed characters in every sense of the world. Highly recommended.