Terry Allen’s “Some Pictures and Other Songs”

Terry Allen was born in 1943 in Lubbock, Texas. His parents represent two archetypes of American mythology: a baseball-playing father and a jazz-pianist mother, kicked out of college for playing “devil’s music.”1 As a teen, Allen was enamored with the beatnik scene when it appeared in Lubbock—everyone started wearing sunglasses at night2—and went on to study at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. His record Juarez (1975) is a masterpiece of countercultural country, a song cycle with a cast of characters that cross state and bodily borders: they fuck, fight, flee, and die. An outlaw of the outlaw country scene, Allen is perhaps best understood as a conceptual artist, using Americana to create everything from sculptures and installations to theater.

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