Ray Wylie Hubbard has put in more than his fair share of time as a songwriter, earning his place as one of the great Texas artists. Given his long and storied history as a Texas songwriter, not to mention his influence on a generation of younger acts all seeking to tap into his rugged authenticity and colorful perspective, it seems only fitting that Ray Wylie Hubbard would be given a tribute of some sort. The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Wylie Hubbard (due late 2019), is a companion collection to Brian T. Atkinson’s upcoming book The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard (Texas A&M University Press, fall 2019).
The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Hubbard will join an increasing number of critically acclaimed tribute albums Eight 30 Records has released over the past few years, including Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay, Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll and Floater: A Tribute to the Tributes to Gary Floater, which have garnered praise from several top publications from Rolling Stone to Texas Monthly and beyond. The Messenger will feature a slew of renowned acts interpreting Hubbard’s songs through their own musical style.
One of those acts is a Texas songwriter who has garnered considerable respect in his own right, the one-man-band Scott H. Biram, who covers “Chickens”. Today Glide is excited to premiere Biram’s rendition of the song. Originally written by Hubbard and Hayes Carll, the song is sort of a hillbilly meditation on farm animals.
“I asked Ray if he wanted to write a song one day,” Hayes Carll, who co-wrote the song with Hubbard, remembers in The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard. “I said, ‘What have you been writing about lately?’ He said, ‘Farm animals.’ I didn’t get writing about farm animals, but he started spouting out these mystic hillbilly observations: ‘I got chickens in my front yard, what they do is scratch and peck. One of these days I’ll go out there, find me one and wring its neck.’ I said, ‘Okay, sounds good to me.’ It was a lesson for me. The crew I was running around with wasn’t dropping that kind of stuff in their songs.”
With Biram at the helm, “Chickens” takes on a greasy blues sound with loads of chicken scratch guitar to enhance the lyrics, which are, of course, about our feathered friends. Biram’s down and dirty approach to the vocals and his loose and groovy style of blues guitar gives the tune some serious legs. By the time he hits the two-minute mark Biram is off and running with his gritty boogie that feels fitting for a smoky roadhouse or perhaps a barnyard jamboree.
Eight 30 Records is releasing a digital single of Scott H. Biram’s “Chickens” on September 7. Visit eight30records.com for more info.