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Luckenbach regulars enjoy another original poem by Walt Perryman. The west Texas native retired to the Hill Country 10 years ago, and now performs his “true stories” for parties, concerts, and friends. Photo by Phil Houseal

PerrymanPerryman’s CDs are for sale at Luckenbach, or contact him at waltperryman@hotmail.com, or 830-992-9502.

To listen to an audio clip of this poem click here.

To watch a video of Walt at Luckenbach, click here.

Do you have a musical artist, event, or topic you would like featured in this column? I love to hear from readers. Send comments to:
phil@ fullhouseproductions.net.

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Walt Perryman: Riding his words

by Phil Houseal
July 28, 2010


Though he grew up in West Texas, worked on a ranch, wears a cowboy hat, and speaks with a drawl, don’t call Walt Perryman a cowboy poet.

“I tell true stories,” he said.

When your life is the story, you don’t have to make it up.

I was growing up out in Grand Falls, Texas back in 1958
I was walking to my grandmother’s house
And it was getting mighty late

Now I only lacked about four blocks to be at my destination
There was a transport truck pulling out from Mr. Haile’s filling station
There was no other cars and no one in sight
So I jumped on the back of that truck
I was going to get off down at the red light

The Grand Falls native never planned to be a writer and performer. Like the time he jumped on the back of that truck, it just kind of happened - starting during a 26-year stint working in Saudi Arabia.

“I started writing poems over there on growing up,” he said. “I never dreamed someday I’d be telling somebody.” The performing part started when he came back to the states and his aunt asked him to recite some of the poems he had sent her. “I said, Aunt Charlotte, I can’t talk in front of a bunch of people. Then I got to thinking - I’m retired... what are they gonna do, fire me?”

I was hanging on to the back of that tanker
And I began to have some fear
It seemed to increase every time
That driver would shift to a higher gear

Well the look on my face beat anything you ever seen
When I peeked over that truck and I saw that red light - It was green

Perryman has recorded two CDs that take the listener from his days growing up in west Texas, through his years in the oil business, to his retirement in the Hill Country.

How fast were we going
Well I’m not really sure
But the lights of Grand Falls was nothing but a blur

Now I shoulda been at my Grandma’s house safe and tucked into my bed
But I was hanging on the back of this truck, going to Fort Stockton instead

Now he has enough material memorized to do a 45-minute show. He has performed for picnics, parties, and of course at Luckenbach “about eight days a week,” where he often is called on stage to recite a story during band breaks.

So I climbed along that tanker
I was holding on real tight
I had to stop that driver
Before Grand Falls was out of sight

His biggest gig involved spending five days speaking at a universityin Michigan, a place more foreign than the Middle East to the small town native.

“I was worried about it... because I can barely talk Texas talk. But it worked pretty good cause they love Texas.”

Now I did not know this driver
And I did not mean him any harm
But everything went to heck when I tapped him on the arm

That driver hit the brakes
And we went into a skid
And all this time that driver was screaming some really bad words
At this little kid

So I hit the ground a running
Cause that man he wanted to fight
I don’t know why he was mad at me and not that dang red light

Perryman and his wife JoAnne retired here in 2000.

“Fredericksburg is the neatest place I have ever been in my life,” he said. “The other day someone said, Walt... have you lived here all your life? I said, not yet.”

I went away back to my grandmother’s house
So tired I could not talk

But from that night on
I figured it would be safer if I would just walk.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing.”

(From the poem The Red Light by Walt Perryman)