Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rex Trailer and His Cow Hands

Artist: Rex Trailer and His Cow Hands
LP: Western Favorites
Song: "Cow Poke" 
[ listen ]
Song: "Red River Valley" 
[ listen ]
Song: "The Last Roundup" 
[ listen ]

Like many, I haven't been able to get the Paris terrorist attacks out of my head. At first I thought maybe I'd post a French record here to show my solidarity, but then I realized I'd also want to post a Lebanese record to show that my thoughts are with the people who were killed and injured in the suicide bomb attacks at the market in Beirut last week too. But in that case, I really should have posted a Turkish record a few weeks ago, since nearly 100 peaceful protesters were killed in Ankara by a bomb attack there. And if I'm going to pay tribute to masses of innocent lives lost at the hands of idiots and lunatics, then I ought to have been posting Syrian records over the past four years, as well as records from Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of George W. Bush's appalling fireworks display known as 'Shock and Awe.' There is no record I could post for all of this. So instead, I'll just send out this happy little 'howdy' from the old West, from me to you. I hope the world gets better soon. 

Rex Trailer grew up near Ft. Worth, Texas and spent summers on his granddaddy's horse ranch near Thurber. The ranch hands there were all rodeo cowboys; one taught Rex roping tricks, another taught him how to handle a bull-whip, and a third cowboy taught him how to play the guitar. Rex eventually made his way into children's television entertainment and ended up as a Boston-area celebrity known for "Boomtown," a children's show on which he employed all the tricks he'd learned from the rodeo cowboys of his youth. The show ran from the mid-1950s to 1974. A strong advocate for children with disabilities, Trailer's show was one of the first in the nation to feature kids with disabilities on television. Rex cut a couple of country music albums right around 1960 (they're brilliant—you can practically smell the wet paint on the cardboard backdrops!) and "Western Favorites," presumably also released somewhere around that time, includes tracks from both. Rex Trailer remained a local celebrity into his later years, even appearing with Winona Ryder and Cher in the film MERMAIDS. He plays a doctor.

On September 11, 2011, Rex was scheduled to be in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to sing songs, meet fans and sign autographs. His appearance there coincided with the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, so Rex performed a song he had written in honor of the victims of 9/11 called "I Appreciate You." As he explained it, "Ever since 9/11, the world has changed for all of us. We have to stick together, protect each other, and let those you love, respect, and admire know how much you appreciate them." You can read more about Mr. Trailer here, with LP liner notes providing a brief historic summary of Western music included below. 

[ Rex Trailer: September 16, 1928 — January 9, 2013 ]

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