The Flatlanders: “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown”

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Today, each of the men that make up The FlatlandersJimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, loom large in the grand history of Texas music. But forty years ago, they were just three West Texas boys making their way as songwriters. With the August 28 release of The Odessa Tapes, we get a little glimpse into the genius of The Flatlanders, before they were legends.

Way back in the early 70s, Gilmore, Ely, and Hancock started jamming and making music together. They recorded a set of tunes that wouldn’t see the light of day (unless you count a small, eight-track-only release back in ’73) until almost twenty years later in 1990 under the grandiose, but most definitely not unfounded, title of More A Legend Than a Band. The record cemented The Flatlanders’ long over-looked place in the pantheon of americana and country, well after the members found individual fame. But the record wasn’t the whole story. There was an earlier recording from sessions in Odessa, Texas that was thought to have been lost. That is until today. Our own music journalism unit Texas Music Matters recently chronicled the history and rediscovery of The Odessa Tapes in an hour-long documentary.

On The Odessa Tapes you’ll find some new gems and some Flatlanders classics. One from the latter group is today’s song of the day, the Jimmy Dale Gilmore great “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown.” The song bridges the gap between the cowboy songs of old and the alt-country of today. It floats like red dust on the West Texas breeze, and reinforces why The Flatlanders were, and still are, legends.