‘Luckenbach Texas’ Was A Big Song
First of all, let’s talk about where it’s geographically located. Lay out a map of Texas and put a dot just a tad below center. I can use words like ‘tad’ when talking about little towns in the South.
Specifically we are now 50 miles North of San Antonio and 69 miles West of Austin. Our town of today’s topic covers just a smidgin over 9 acres. And there’s another word for today’s language choice.
Its oldest building is a combination general store and saloon reputedly opened in 1849 by Minna Engel, whose father was a preacher from Germany. The community, first named Grape Creek, was later named after Minna’s husband, Carl Albert Luckenbach, who was then her fiancé. They would later move to another town which became Albert, Texas.
Its population increased to a high of 492 in 1904, but by the 1960s, Luckenbach was almost a ghost town. An ad in the paper offering “town with population of 3 for sale” led Hondo Crouch, rancher and Texas folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970.
Luckenbach’s association with country music began in the summer of 1973, when Jerry Jeff Walker, backed by the Lost Gonzo Band, recorded a live album there called Viva Terlingua at Luckenbach Dancehall. That album became an outlaw country classic.
Four years later (and a year after Crouch’s death), Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson memorialized Luckenbach with the song “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),” cowritten by rock and soul producer Chips Moman and keyboardist Bobby Emmons. Waylon later told audiences that he hated the song and admitted the guys that wrote the thing had never been to Luckenbach nor had he. Waylon eventually played one show in Luckenbach on July 4, 1997.