1982: The Gun Club - “Texas Serenade”

“Texas Serenade” begins the way every mystery should: with a corpse — in this case, the body of a man lying murdered on his own front lawn. The mystery is not so much the identity of the killer as that of the victim, and it’s a problem that the song attempts to solve one facet at a time. The scene is narrated by someone with an unknown relationship to the deceased who provides us with a portrait of the man, or perhaps more accurately a chalk outline, a shape that circumscribes the dead man’s limits while rendering little of the terrain therein.

The details that the narrator feeds us are scattered and disconnected, ranging from the confounding to the trivial. We know that he was a decorated war veteran. We know that his parents live in Houston, but he moved “out West.” But most of all, we know from the reaction of his neighbors that the deceased is someone that the community knew or at least thought that they did. This sudden, violent death in the middle of a quiet neighborhood is like a fissure in the daylight world, an opening into something dark, savage, and alien roiling beneath the surface of things.

The song’s most resonant pair of lines appear in the penultimate verse. “He was the violent kind,” we are told, and this we could have guessed, but then he adds, “He saved me once or twice.” Suddenly we have a whole new view of our victim and the man weaving his fractured eulogy. However, they knew one another; whether through the war, some illicit venture, or another context entirely, our narrator feels a responsibility to his friend’s legacy. In his own way, the speaker tries to tell us that the truth of a man is not just found in his worst actions, that there are dimensions to the human heart that can’t be captured by an obituary or crime scene photo.

But what does that matter? Because at the end of the day, the guy is dead on the lawn, and in time, everyone will know the reasons why. The things he did under the cover of darkness will be dragged out, hissing and mewling, into the light. And what will they say about him, then? Please don’t ask me.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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