Crazy Hearts in Amarillo

15/11/2023 Wesley Dean
View Article Crazy Hearts Diary

When I first travelled to America in 2006 I was 24 and I had the great honor of working with CJ Vanston. He was Joe Cocker’s producer and musical director for his world tour at the time.

CJ introduced me to LA and iconic musicians Jeff “the skunk” Baxter, who played with the Doobie Brothers, and American singer songwriting icon Mac Davis. Mac and Jeff both played guitar on a song CJ and I wrote together and the song ended up being featured in a Christopher Guest film called “For Your Consideration.”

So, cut to the summer of 2023, on the Crazy Hearts Across America tour, I was googling ‘Buddy Holly in Lubbock’ because I was interested in visiting some landmarks of his, and to my surprise I saw “Mac Davis Lane” on the Google map. I knew Mac had sadly passed away a few years ago, but I didn’t know that Mac was from Lubbock and was buried in the local cemetery. It was cathartic and brought back so many great memories of that night session in LA in 2006.

It meant so much to me to visit him.

Mac was full of great Elvis stories and general tales of rock & roll shenanigans. But what I remember the most was that he treated me as an equal. I was just some kid that blew in from Down Under at the time, but he was so interested and so polite. I was too young to really appreciate his incredible legacy, and so to be able to visit Mac’s grave was a full circle special moment for me. Especially on our Crazy Hearts adventure.

We found Buddy’s gravesite but we couldn’t find Mac’s gravesite anywhere. It was a million degrees and we were almost going to leave when I said, I’m just going to take one last look, and as I said that, there was Mac’s grave, about 100 feet from Buddy’s.

I stood at his grave, played a song and thanked Mac for that great session back in 2006 and I wondered if he ever did write his idea for a country song  “Don’t Start With Me Cause I’m Finished With You.” We drove out of the graveyard listening to Elvis sing ‘In the Ghetto’ (Mac wrote that song).

We left for Amarillo the next day. I packed the RV singing the George Strait song “Amarillo By Morning” and off we went.

It wasn’t a long drive and we were excited to get to Amarillo because we had an appointment with Chris who was to fix our generator once and for all! We stopped at a famous road stop called the BIG TEXAN, and ate some good old fashioned hearty Texan food before Jacobie, Mason (our crazy hearted crew members), and I made our way to check into the Airbnb while Charlotte, Genna (our friend), and the kids went to a local fairground.

I pulled into the Airbnb and was immediately met by a big guy, who lived next door.

‘Hi neighbour, Combat Jim is the name!’ he said with earnest.

He wanted to know where we were from and where we were going and warned me that I would have to make sure I hide the kids bikes and anything else valuable as the ‘crack heads from the local RV park will steal anything they can for drugs!’ I said we were headed for Lubbock, and from there on, that quickly became a Crazy Hearts rule, to always say we were headed to the place we had just left.

Combat Jim then invited me to come a little closer, so that he didn’t have to say the next part very loud!

And as he started to use his softer voice he informed me that there had been a shooting in our Airbnb only a couple months back. ‘Right there in the front doorway!’ he said as he smirked and pointed at the house.

‘They was lined up the street, we had the entire police department out here!’ he explained.

‘You see I was in the army, I wasn’t scared at all!’  His voice got louder as he puffed his chest out with pride.

He told me he had cameras all over his property and laughed that sometimes he can see into our bathroom window as he laughed and assured me that he ‘wouldn’t be lookin!’

At this time, in my mind, I was busy thinking how we get out of there fast, but Combat Jim obviously needed someone to talk to and I wasn’t going to be the one to upset him by cutting our conversation short. He continued on and wanted to show me the ‘tornado bunker’ in the backyard of our Airbnb and said ‘if there’s one that rolls into town, we’ll be bunking in with you!’

He opened the rusty old door to the bunker and invited me to ‘climb in!’

I politely declined and said I needed to use the restroom.

I went inside, and told the girls to pack their bags and we got out of there faster than a bullet from one of Combat Jim’s many guns.

I made a booking with the nearest hotel and was relieved we found a safe place easily… I think everyone was relieved to be in a hotel, it felt  normal for a second. I unpacked the entire RV (again) which took hours, navigating elevators and carrying clothes on coat hangers one by one, toiletries bags and just general things that you accumulate when traveling with two young boys. Not to mention the guitars and vinyl merchandise that couldn’t couldn’t be left in the heat as the RV was like a sauna when parked. Plastic things melted, and food would go off quickly, so we had to throw out a tonne of stuff. We eventually bought suitcases in Amarillo.

Chris arrived to fix our broken generator in the morning. We met in the parking lot. It was going to be another hottest day on record, so he started early. Even then, it was 100 degrees. I prayed he knew how to replace it without any more issues. He turned out to be our angel, a gentle giant. A Texan cowboy as strong as an ox. He removed the generator easily, and replaced it with a brand new generator, that worked ok for the rest of the trip. Both generators weighed as much as a baby elephant and I couldn’t believe he did it by himself.

After more investigation we later learnt that the generator had blown up internally, maybe the heat was so extreme, we hadn’t hit anything on our travels, so I didn’t really know why the generator had blown up. The mechanic in Houston told us that some of the wiring did look dodgy.

When we later returned to Nashville, The RV company tried to sue us for the damage even though it had nothing to do with us!  I wanted to reply “don’t start with me cause I’m finished with you!” But I didn’t..

It was just another day in the life of Crazy Hearts!