You know what this blog needs? More country music. It can’t be that Hank3 and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy are the only weirdos ever to put on a cowboy hat and yodel about their dog dying. There must be more freaks out there in bolo ties and cowboy boots, doing things to pedal steel guitars that Jimmie Rodgers never intended.
Sure enough, with a little help from you folks out there in reader land, we finally managed to track down some truly weird-ass country. And it turns out most of it is coming from, of all places, Germany. This Metafilter article gives a good overview, covering everything from horrible mainstream crap like Texas Lightning, who represented Deutschland in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, to sort of amazing novelty crap like The BossHoss, who do Teutonic country covers of stuff like “Hot in Herre” and “Hey Ya.” Yep, stick a cowboy hat on a German and tell them to start singing, and you’ve pretty much got yourself an instant what-the-fuck-fest.
But that Metafilter article missed one very important figure in Germany’s proud tradition of pretending to be Texas ranch hands. (Although a few folks were wise enough to mention him in the comments.) His name is Tex Haper and he is “Der Cowboy aus dem Norden.” That means “Cowboy of the North” but like most things, it sounds more impressive in German. Especially if you say it like this.
Tex has been doing his German cowboy/trucker routine at least since the early ’80s. Maybe even longer than that…on his website, there’s a page of photos that shows him performing with five different bands dating all the way back to the early ’60s, but it’s hard to tell whether any of them were country or not. We Googled all of them and came up empty-handed. Could a bunch of German dudes in 1979 wearing matching blue shirts and calling themselves Die Schneuzer have played country music? Maybe, but the likelier story is that they were some kind of Can-inspired Krautrock band.
Since going solo around 1980, Tex has cranked out a steady stream of awkwardly country-flavored ditties, often accompanied by the kind of cover art that collectors drool over for kitsch factor alone. He’s still going strong today, sporting a beer gut and Hulk Hogan-esque mustache. Well, “strong” might be overstating it a bit…his only recent YouTube videos look like they were shot at a glorified karaoke night in Thailand. But he was popular enough at one point to do this:
This is the part where I have to admit that because Andy and I don’t speak German, we really have no fucking clue what this guy’s full story is. There’s almost nothing about him on the Interwebs in English. So what’s that video from, and when was it shot? Ich habe nein frickin idea. If anyone does know, clue us in.
What we do know is this: when it comes to low-budget country music videos, Tex Haper is basically Willie Nelson, Picasso and David Lynch all rolled up into big German hunka-hunka burnin’ man-schnitzel. Some are only available on his website, but most have found their way onto YouTube, which at this point is basically the Smithsonian of genius low-budget music videos. I’m really tempted to post all of them but then this damn page will take forever to load and I know you people have short attention spans. So I’ll restrain myself and just leave you with two. First, here’s Tex’s answer to “Viva Las Vegas”:
And finally, I leave you with Tex Haper’s greatest contribution to humanity, the song “New Wave Country,” which for reasons that will remain forever shrouded in mystery did not spawn an entire new genre of bad ’80s music. And no, “Cotton Eye Joe” doesn’t count.