About the music
From the author: The story of Tex and Sugar is a story about a love for music and the pleasure it brings. It is also about trying to live a life doing what you love.
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that when I was painting the pictures for this book I listened to my favorite country music recordings every day. These are some of the artists I listened to:
Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers
I was inspired by this music. The voices and the wonderful harmonic melodies put me into the perfect mood to think about Tex and Sugar and what they might have been singing before they went looking for fame and fortune (and after they find it, too.)
Take Tex — I am certain that when Tex Mex Rex was sitting by the fire, he was singing Tumbling Tumbleweeds, my favorite number by the Sons of the Pioneers, featuring Roy Rogers. That song was written by band member Bob Nolan. I played an album by that group at least once every day when I was working on the illustrations.
And Sugar — I think that Sugar loved to sing Cattle Call (written by Tex Owens) just like Emmylou Harris does on the Songs of the West album. I listened to that and the Pieces of the Sky album while I worked, too. Emmylou’s sweet voice is the voice I hear in my head when I think of Sugar Lee Snughead. In fact, I think that when Sugar and Tex meet on the roof top, they sound very much like Emmylou singing a duet with Willie Nelson, whom I also listened to often. On Emmylou’s album, Duets, Willie and she sing a lovely number entitled, Gulf Coast Highway (written by Nancy Griffith, James Hooker, and Danny Flowers). That is the sound I imagine for Tex and Sugar singing their own duet overlooking Big City.
Of course, I can’t forget Hank Williams. He was another regular on the stereo system. Sometimes when I listened to his songs, he reminded me of an old Tom Cat. Hank had a certain way of holding and stretching a note that sounded a lot like one of the kitties that used to “sing” outside my windows when I was a teenager. He had a voice like no one else, and I never get tired of hearing his music. When I hear him sing I can feel it, as well as hear it.
Finally, one of my favorite things about country music is the lyrics. I love the unabashed use of metaphors and similes. That is what makes country music so much fun. You can find great examples of this in the albums of Randy Travis, another favorite of mine. I especially love Storms of Life for its classic arrangements and irresistible lyrics. Diggin’ Up Bones (written by Paul Overstreet, Al Gore and Nat Stuckey) is a perfect example.
Now you know what my studio sounded like for many months. It was filled with wonderful country music while I lost myself in the world of Tex and Sugar. —B.J.N.