Some things he did

Roxy Gordon was "one of the great outlaw artist misfits" and so much more

In his hilariously poignant song "Indians," Gordon split the world in two specific groups: That which was "Indian" (acceptable in his eyes), and that which "ain't." Making the cut as "Indians" were: Leonard Peltier, Chuck Berry, baseball, Willie Nelson, red meat, Hank Williams, street people, Pancho Villa, Los Angeles, Fort Worth, fry bread, Africa, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, poetry, circles and random lines, and "living." That which "ain't Indian" included Michael Jackson, Europe, JFK, proper punctuation, the president of Baylor University, football, New York City, health-food stores, General Custer, straight lines, Che Guevara, the FBI, and unions full of cops. The last words of the song are, "Expecting to live forever won't ever be 'Indian'..."

On the Marq's Texas Music Kitchen Web site (www.lonestarwebstation.com/roxygordon.html), there is a quote from Lubbock musician-artist Terry Allen that probably says it best.

"Roxy Gordon is one of the great outlaw artist misfits," Allen says. "He writes like an angel and sings like livin' hell. He's got a fine eagle tattoo on his arm, and I like his hat. His voice is as stone, true as the history of blood and dirt. In those mirrored shades he looks like the perfect cross between an ex-state trooper and a serial killer. He'll hate me for saying that...the state trooper part. Roxy is a brave and solid heart."

Roxy Gordon was Indian, and most of the rest of us ain't.
Roxy Gordon was Indian, and most of the rest of us ain't.

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It was hard to believe that this soft-spoken old guy who was always sitting out on his front porch in East Dallas had really lived the kind of life that Roxy had. He wrote several books of poems and short stories, including Breeds and Some Things I Did. He also released three spoken word albums, Crazy Horse Never Died, Unfinished Business, and the one that was my particular favorite, Smaller Circles. I bought my first vinyl copy of Smaller Circles at the old Record Gallery store on Lower Greenville. It was an import, released on a label based in London. I think I paid 20 bucks for it. Roxy was living right down the street from me at the time and I didn't even know it. I wore that record out fast.

Over the years, Roxy's writing was featured in Rolling Stone and The Village Voice. He also often contributed to a UK publication called Omaha Rainbow. The late '60s and '70s found him hanging out with guys like Jim Morrison, author Richard Braughtigan, Leonard Cohen, Robert Creely, and Temple native Rip Torn. Like a lot of people at the time, he was living Jack Kerouac's On the Road, but he was living it better. He was both Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty.

A few years after Some Things I Did came out in 1972, Roxy and Judy moved out to New Mexico for a spell and began publishing a country music magazine called Picking up the Tempo. It was there that he hooked up with Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Waylon Jennings. Roxy was right there in the thick of the "Texas Outlaw" country-rock movement, lending his rather concise perspective to the proceedings. He was Americana before the frat boys and washed-out middle-age punk rockers started turning it into their Highland Park version of Hee Haw.


Sometimes I get to thinking that people in Dallas tend to take some of our more "eccentric" citizens for granted. For instance, Tom Landry passed away a couple of days after Roxy did. There were huge headlines, specials on TV, and this city paused for a full week to hold a huge memorial for the former coach of the Dallas Cowboys. One after another, former football stars and various civic leaders praised Landry's Christian morals and ideals.

On the other hand, aside from what is left of his immediate family, there were fewer than 10 people from Dallas at Roxy Gordon's services in Coleman.

Both were men who were thoughtful and poised, determined, and firmly believed in their spiritual convictions. Both often led by example and loved their families deeply. Both men used an entertainment medium in an attempt somehow to teach greater "life" lessons. However, in this particular juxtaposition of "Cowboys and Indians," Tom Landry's lifestyle was celebrated, exalted, praised to the high heavens. Roxy Gordon's obituary in The Dallas Morning News took up less than six column inches, and not one of the local news broadcasts mentioned his passing. Make of it what you will.

Roxy would have been 55 years old on March 7 of this year. Survivors include his wife, Judy N. Gordon of Talpa, Texas, and his mother, Louise E. Gordon of Coleman. Other survivors include his adopted Assiniboine parents, John and Minerva Allen, and two sons and one daughter-in law, J.C. and Corinne Gordon of Dallas and Quanah Parker Gordon of Talpa. Roxy also had a twin brother that died at birth. J.C.'s wife Binky is expecting Roxy Gordon's first grandchild in four or five months.

Somewhere Roxy and Townes are knocking back a bottle of vodka, trading stories about all of the people they met and places they've been. That night I spent listening to Townes playing in Roxy's living room probably won't even register in the scope of their overall experiences. A hell of a lot of living went into those 55 years, and those who were close to Roxy feel lucky ever to have known the man.

As I'm driving home from work down Central Expressway, amidst all the traffic, billboards, concrete, pollution and confusion, one thing comes up as clear as the water in Coleman: Roxy Gordon was Indian, and many of the rest of us ain't.

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