Hey, Marty, sing
us a song. Give us a little
"How 'bout My
Woman, My Woman, My Wife?"
is Marty Robbins? The stock-car driver? Ah'm embarrassed Ah don't know his
songs. He sounds just like Eddy Arnold to me."
And on and on.
This is NASCAR party night in Bryan, Texas, a town new to the vibes of Southern
stock-car racers, a place trying to make it big with a four-year-old, two-mile
track amid bankruptcy proceedings, court judgments, a change of owners and
"Hook 'Em Horns" football. Still, it shows promise. "Give this
place another two or three races," says one NASCAR party regular, "and
Bryan'll be just like any other stop on the circuit."
Herb Nab, the
crew chief for Cale Yarborough's Kar Kare Chevrolet, brings the well-lubricated
crowd of about 200 to attention: "Everybody! A big hand for Marty
Robbins!" And Robbins, all 145 pounds of him hidden away somewhere on a
5'9" frame inside his oversized Goodyear jacket, moves to the center of the
Holiday Inn patio. With a borrowed guitar and a borrowed sideman, a huge Texas
A&M veterinary student named Ray Hawthorne ("Man, if I was that
big," says Marty, "I'd make people pay me a dollar just to stay
alive"), Marty Robbins goes to work.
This is a tough
audience, loosened by booze and the knowledge that this is the last night to
stand on it before the Alamo 500 two days later, and Marty does not fight the
mood. He sings without a microphone as best he can, possibly remembering his
first tour date as an obscure Country and Western performer many years before.
"It was 1946 in a" little place in Northern California," Marty
says. "I can't even remember the name of that particular old town, but when
they drew the curtain, there was chicken wire between the stage and the
audience. The guy who ran the place said the customers got a little excited
Marty sings the
songs that have made him one of the biggest C&W singers in the business for
over 20 years. Nearby an out-of-uniform deputy sheriff circles, not
unobtrusively, and Don Winters, a longtime friend of Robbins who is built like
a fire hydrant and who is one of the best yodelers in the Nashville Sound,
says, "They was a bunch of us ready to get Marty out in case they was
trouble. Me 'n' Cale 'n' Richard Petty wouldn't of let nothin' happen. Nobody'd
go after Marty—if he got hit, it'd be by accident—but he could of got caught in
Near the end of
the night, some long time after midnight, a man in the crowd asks, "You
ever write a song 'bout stock-car racin'?"