Trammell and Gordon were also both active participants in the movement to free imprisoned Native American activist Leornard Peltier. They did several benefits over the years that featured, among others, Sara Hickman, local performance artist Fred Curchack, "Dollar" Bill Johnston (Michelle Shocked and Max Johnston's dad), Ray Wylie Hubbard, and of course, Townes Van Zandt. Native American culture was Gordon's sincere passion and obviously the essence and inspiration for most of his writing. Roxy was adopted into the Assiniboine tribe in Montana in the late-'60s, and was given the name "First Coyote Boy." Trammell describes Gordon's family tree as "one-half Choctaw, and one-half Texas Ranger...and half outlaw."
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."
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.