Ignored Obscured Restored
Jerry Jeff Walker is best known for two songs – his own “Mr. Bojangles”, and “London Homesick Blues” from his terrific, live ¡Viva Terlingua! album (1973). The peculiar detail is that “London Homesick Blues” was written and sung by Gary P. Nunn!
The song is autobiographical and was written while Nunn was on tour in England in a band supporting Michael Murphey. The lyrics are a straightforward description of what Nunn was experiencing while he was in London, squatting on the couch in a flat with four other guys. He has described that it was foggy and rainy all the time, and that the heat in the flat went off from 6 AM to 6 PM every day – difficult surroundings for a boy from south Texas.
Well it’s cold over here and I swear,
I wish they’d turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl,
I promised I would meet on the third floor?
And of the whole damn lot, the only friend I got,
is a smoke and a cheap guitar.
My mind keeps roamin’, my heart keeps longin’
to be home in a Texas bar.
Then there’s the line everyone remembers and many mistake for the title of the song.
I want to go home with the armadillo.
Nunn thought about making “armadillo” a proper noun in reference to the Armadillo World Headquarters, a large venue in Dallas where he performed with Murphey in 1972. But he didn’t, and even he isn’t sure why.
The way Nunn tells the story, the idea for playing “London Homesick Blues” on ¡Viva Terlingua! was a spontaneous decision. At one of the concerts where the album was recorded in the Lukenbach Dancehall, the atmosphere was electric. The hall was packed to the gills, and everyone was pumped up and having a great time. Walker looked over to Nunn and said, “Do that song you were singing under the trees this afternoon.” The rest is history!
“London Homesick Blues” became the informal state song of Texas. For many years it was played over the closing credits for the PBS program Austin City Limits.
Enjoy… until next week.