Driven by a restless urge to wander,
You hitch your wagon to a shooting star.
Flying down the highway headed yonder,
Then you get where you were going, and there you are.

So a bodyís born with half a mind to travel,
That wanderlust to pack your bags and roam,
ĎTil youíre wearing out your boots just scratching gravel,
And you long to be some place that feels like homeÖ

I want to see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign,
Feel that Texas country in the air.
Eat supper at Threadgillís,
Go out danciní in the hills -
Iíve been a little blue but Iíll be fine
When I see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign.

Everywhere you go folks fret and hurry.
They canít take time to laugh and look around.
You struggle not to lead a life of worry,
Try not to let the bastards grind you down.

You try to concentrate on things that matter,
Forget about the superficial stuff,
ĎTil the potholes in lifeís highway leave you battered
And you feel like youíve had just about enoughÖ

I want to see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign,
Feel that Texas country in the air.
Eat barbecue at Stubbís,
Hear some music in the clubs -
Iíve been a little blue but Iíll be fine
When I see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign.
I want to see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign,
Feel that Texas country in the air.
I want to swim in Barton Springs,
Telephone that girl who sings -
Iíve been a little blue but Iíll be fine
When I see that AUSTIN CITY LIMITS sign.

Hank Alrich

Hank's Notes

I left Austin in 1983, and while I have since been living about as close to real paradise as one can get in the US, there is no denying that the music scene in Austin is another kind of paradise for many of us. A few years later, while driving somewhere I can't recall, the chorus for this song started rolling around in my mind's ear, and pretty soon the first verse showed up. I hadn't a portable recorder with me, and I didn't stop to write it all down, and in short order the whole thing slipped my mind.

In early 2002 I was loading the van for a trip to Austin, Texas, to handle sound reinforcement for a Go Dance! showcase. I had been back to Austin only twice since leaving my old home on Comanche Trail near Lake Travis , and I was excited about the opportunity to see old friends. My daughter Mylie owns and operates Go Dance! and she had asked me to improve sound delivery at the showcase, as she'd not been happy with it at the previous events. For years while still at home Mylie had been part of my sound reinforcement road crew and she had learned that live sound can actually be good.

While I was carting stuff to the van, which took the better part of an afternoon, this song began its own journey home. Little by little, lines began to return as fragments of the nascent song looped in my brain, and by the time I'd finished loading, I had the whole first chorus back, and parts of the first verse, too.

I pulled out from the home place about 5 PM, planning to drive into the night after leaving with the sun at my back. I stopped in Reno, Nevada, to grab some stellar Mexican food at Beto's (575 W. 5th St, if you're ever in Reno and want some real, down-to-earth Mexican food). A good dose of hot stuff was just the ticket for the beginning of a long drive, and I headed out of Reno on 395 intending to take Highway 50 at Carson City over to 95 heading south.

As I drove through Washoe Valley the song took me over. I completely overlooked my left turn, and hours later found myself still on Highway 395 and almost to Bishop CA! I studied the map, backtracked to the first available route east, and eventually hit my intended route. I would've been seriously irritated except for being so grateful that this song I'd left somewhere along the road had found its way back to me.

Over the next few years I'd get an idea for another verse, but none that really worked to my satisfaction. I sang the song anyway, having come up with a second chorus, and people seemed to like it, especially people who had traveled to Austin to sample the live music scene. Late last year the second verse showed up for real, and then a third chorus. Early this year I declared it finished.

Usually I can't stand songs like this, written as if for the Chamber of Commerce, save one word. In this case it came from somewhere deep within me, and turns out to be an apt and positive expression of longing for music and friends I used to hear and see on a daily basis. And thereby the perfect song to open this recorded collection.

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