Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard has spent decades dishing up helpings of hot, greasy country fare, and last night the songwriter brought his brand of cult country to the masses with a performance on Conan.
Hubbard sang “Stone Blind Horses,” the final track from his new album The Ruffian’s Misfortune, with help from a three-piece band. Backed by accordion, mandolin and light percussion, he sang the song like a long-in-the-tooth rambler contemplating his inevitable future. “My only hope,” goes the first verse, “is somewhere in that heaven, someone is saying a prayer for me.”
With his John Lennon glasses and purple scarf, Hubbard looked more like a British bard than a Texas rogue. That didn’t stop late-night TV host Conan O’Brien from running to the stage after the song’s end and asking to be part of Hubbard’s road band. “I would like to join, actually!” O’Brien said, adding, “You wouldn’t have to pay me.”
Hubbard released his album The Ruffian’s Misfortune in April. “The blackbird in the first song says, ‘The gods can’t save us from ourselves,’ and the high slurred whistle of the redwing blackbird in the last song sounds likes he’s singing, ‘That I might die,'” he described the LP to Rolling Stone Country earlier this year. “Between them are some other songs bout other things.”
Hubbard and company are flying back to the East Coast today, with a run of shows throughout the South — including an appearance at Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic — keeping him busy throughout the summer.