Getting Back To The Culture Of Country In Luckenbach



The Simplicity Of Life: Luckenbach

A Place In Texas Where People Come Together Yearning For A Simpler Life And Some Good Country Music

Enjoying Good Company And Country Music [Photo Credit: Robynn Dodd]

Throughout all the books of old and philosopher’s meanderings, a common sentiment is the greatness of simplicity.  All throughout the world – from Confucius – “Life is very simple, but we insist on making it complicated” to Isaac Newton -  “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”  As Confucius point out, we tend to complicate our lives with our jobs, social drama, politics, etc., all the while yearning for a simpler life.

Country songs most obviously speak to this idea, though the theme is common in all genres and writings.  Two giants in country music, Mr. Willie Nelson and Mr. Waylon Jennings, once came together and created a hit song based on the yearning for a simpler life and they pinpointed a place where they could have it – Luckenbach, Texas.  Luckenbach, with “a legend bigger than life,” says Bobbi McDaniel, Manager of Operations in Luckenbach, was founded in the 1840s in Texas hill country.  

An interesting tidbit about Luckenbach is the claim that first powered flight happened in a field near Luckenbach in 1865, 40 years before the Wright Brothers.  Due to lack of evidence (pictures, lack of detail drawings of his airplane, etc) the claim could be Texas mythology, though there are accounts of credible witnesses to the event.  Jacob Brodbeck, a German inventor/ schoolteacher, designed many different mechanisms; the most treasured being his “air-ship.”  Having moved to Fredericksburg, just up the road from Luckenbach, from Germany.  Brodbeck tried to secure funding for his plane and, according to legend, succeeded.  It is claimed that the plane flew between 50-100 feet before crashing into a chicken coup.  If somehow proven true, North Carolina’s department of transportation may be upset by having to redo their license plates to say “second in flight,” not exactly an exciting tourist selling point.  Regardless if the event happened or not, the Texans believe he is an important part of history of the area and have a bust of him in Fredericksburg. 

4th Of July Celebration [Photo Credit: Robynn Dodd]
Square Dancing Together [Photo Credit: Robynn Dodd]
Carolers And Vintage Cars [Photo Credit: Robynn Dodd]

Beyond the Texas folklore, on Waylon and Willie’s song, devoted to love and simplicity, Waylon states what makes life worth living, a well-tuned guitar and his girl – both of which, he states, can be found in Luckenbach and not in the successful life he has been living thus far.  The world famous saloon, still running and showcasing country stars such as Robert Earl Keen, started in 1849, though didn’t become a national destination until after 1971, when the town of Luckenbach was sold to Russell Crouch, whose family still runs the town. 

In the early 1900s the town had a population of about 400 people, which slowly declined to its current number of 3.  “Crouch proclaimed himself mayor of the town and used the saloon and dance hall as a premier showcase for Texas ‘outlaw’ country music,” explains McDaniel.  He coined the phrase “Everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach.” In 1977, a year after Crouch died, Waylon and Willie recorded their famous song.  Since then the famous artists still play at the dance hall and in the 90s, Willie held his annual Fourth of July picnic in Luckenbach, attracting over 12000 visitors for the picnic.  McDaniel notes that finding Luckenbach could be a bit hard, because people tend to steal the signs that lead to it for souvenirs, though “the highway department got smart and started welding the signs to the posts” however, “my husband and I find saw blades all the time by the signs.” 

So what is Luckenbach like now?  There’s the saloon and dancehall, a restaurant, and the general store – where one can buy quirky memorabilia and Luckenbach souvenirs.  As a result of the Waylon/Willie song, the town became a bit more lively, however after Willie moved his picnic elsewhere, the town went back to it’s simple life completely – Western town charm and music hall.  “It’s quieter except for the roar of the bikes and live music on the weekends,” McDaniel says, “the offspring of the rich and famous who played in Luckenbach still come to see and be seen in town.”  There are RV spots to camp by the creek and enjoy the “Texas State of Mind” of relaxing and getting away from everyday life.

The Japanese have their Zen gardens and the French have their countrysides to symbolize simplicity.  The English have their red brick gardens and the Arabs have their deserts.  America has the cowboy. And deep in the heart of Texas, the state that epitomizes the cowboy, lays the simple town of Luckenbach – devoted forever to that simple life.  As the song states “Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas…there ain’t no people feeling no pain.”    

Candice Reed

A graduate of Kelsey-Jenny College in Communications as well as a certified grant writer, Candice has written for The Los Angeles Times & The New York Times. She loves entertaining and all things French.

Fredericksburg KOA

Make Sure To Stay At:

Fredericksburg KOA, within a few short miles of the area's best attractions. Exclusive shopping, art galleries, elegant dining and the famous National Museum of the Pacific War await you in Fredericksburg.

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