Charlie Goodnight, West Texas Heaven and a Stripper

The Jigglewatts are here. They’ve arrived – all the way from Austin Texas for their tour Downunder, starting in Perth – and sadly, from what I can discern, ending in Perth. But on show at that city’s Fringe World ’15 Festival they will bump and grind their way around several stages. They’ll strip, tease and set male – and female – hearts a pumping with their displays of sumptuous flesh – all very tasteful, mind you.

jigglewatts

Charlie Goodnight – ever heard of him? No, nor had I. But he’s famous enough for the US Postal Service to issue a stamp in his honour. What a man he, as a result of my investigation, turned out to be. But my research of the ether didn’t commence with him as a starting point – in fact it was a present day chartreuse I was interested, but it’s with Charlie I ended up – with a comely stripper in between.

charlie goodnight stamp

But let’s start with Charlie. They don’t breed ’em like him these days. Imagine this – he was renowned for his swearing and cussin’ – think ‘Deadwood’s’ glorious Al Swearengen. He smoked fifty cigars a day, realised it was doing him no good, so switched to chuggin’ on a pipe in his later years. Those mature years lasted till the grand old age of ninety-three. And he was, let us say, very vigorous. He remarried at ninety-one, going on to produce a child. His wife was sixty-five years his junior. As I said – what a man!

If you think our Kidmans and Duracks, Charlie Goodnight was a Yankee equivalent. He was a cattle baron of the Wild West, blazing a trail across West Texas to get his beef to market as quickly as was conceivable back then. In doing so he won and lost fortunes several times. He wasn’t going to die wondering, was Charlie Goodnight. When he was done with redefining the map of the harsh lands of Texas territory, he found time to invent an effective side-saddle for women, established places of worship around his local areas for churchgoers of denominations other than his own, became part-owner of an opera house and built schools for the education of drovers’ sons and daughters. But it remains his first passion that built his lasting fame – cutting new trails where white men hadn’t ventured before. If you think our own Canning Stock Route or the Birdsville Track you get a notion of what he was about. For the Lone Star State it was the iconic Goodnight-Loving Trail that enabled Texan cowboys to eschew the Kansas railheads in favour of opening up new routes and markets to the west instead.

charles goodnight

The story of how this was achieved won a Pulitzer Prize. Larry McMurtry based his character Woodrow F Call on the West Texan drover for the novel ‘Lonesome Dove’, which garnered the prestigious award. When Call’s partner McCrae is ambushed and killed by the Indians during a cattle drive in the book, it is exactly what happened with Goodnight and his mate Oliver Loving. Charlie pulled a poisoned arrow from the chest of the dying Loving and rode the dead man back up the trail for a burial in his home town.

Goodnight was born in 1836, never learnt to read or write, fought in the Civil War and was known to one and all as the Colonel. All his employees were prohibited from drinking, gambling or fighting – but he inflicted the strongest punishment on anyone who mistreated a horse. He was no doubt a man of his age with many of his attitudes, but by any measure was a force to be reckoned with. He was also the forebear of Kimmie Rhodes, the subject of my initial foray into the web – the name Goodnight being passed on down through the generations to Kimmie and beyond. And it is through this singer I discovered the amazing, superlative Townes Van Zandt.

I picked up Rhodes’ ‘West Texas Heaven’ way back in the mid-nineties, probably attracted to it by the words beckoning on the CD’s cover – ‘Featuring Willie Nelson (and) Waylon Jennings’. Like TVZ, Ms Rhodes is songwriter’s songwriter, with her tunes having been recorded by a disparate selection of greats – everyone from Emmylou, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, Trisha Yearwood right through to Oz’s own John Farnham – as well as, of course, Willie and Waylon.

Kimmie grew up in Buddy Holly territory. She was a Lubbock lass. Singing on stage since the age of six, she moved to Austin in ’79, becoming a vital part of that city’s outlaw country scene. There she met long term partner Joe Gracey, a music producer who passed in 2011. In ’81 she recorded her first album in Willie’s Austin studio. She has issued a plethora down through the years since, both in solo and collaboration form, but for some reason WTH is the only one I own. Must do something about that.

Although a legend in her own state and popular in parts of Europe, Kimmie has never caught on in this market. Her product only seems available on import. Like her ancestor Charlie, Kimmie is also a bit of a jack-of-all-trades being, as well, an author, playwright and producer. Rodney Crowell describes her as having,’The soul of a poet and the voice of an angel.’ Sweet Emmylou states, ‘Kimmie has the voice of a beautiful child coming from an old soul. She touches us where the better angels of our nature dwell,…’ Country music folk are really into their angels.

kimmie

Her duet on the album with Townes VZ, ‘I’m Gonna Fly’, opened up his own oeuvre to me – his tunesmithery and his sad, sad life. She tells the story of how that collaboration all came about on YouTube – look it up. Like many of our musical heroes, Townes did not live long enough to enjoy any measure of the fame he now holds – had he done so he’d probably have drunk it all away in any case. Kimmie is made of more resilient stuff, although she too continues to fly under the radar in many parts. Her time will come. I still play ‘West Texas Heaven’ and ‘I’m Gonna Fly’ still gives me goosebumps, bringing a tear to this old fella’s eye.

Kimmie and her hubby of twenty-eight years produced one daughter, although she has a couple of sons from her first marriage. The daughter is also pretty special. She is Jolie Goodnight and she takes her clothes off for a living.

‘If you want to see strippers in Austin,’ trills the Austin Post, ‘you can head on over to the Yellow Rose and buy yourself a lapdance, but if you want to see burlesque in Texas, you’ll have to look a little harder. If you’re lucky you might find Jolie Goodnight, a dish-water-blonde-turned-flame- haired-beauty who dazzles audiences as she sings jazz standards and does a striptease at the same time.’ What Jolie does to entertain is part strip but mainly tease – its an art form currently enjoying a world wide revival under the broad banner of burlesque.

jolieampgdnight

Jolie became hooked on it as a youngster during her mother’s tours of Europe, where it has always been held in high regard. What she does is not for the raincoat brigade as it’s classy, albeit undeniably sensual – with a soupçon of bawdiness as well. Ms Goodnight is set apart by the fact that it’s her own voice that is singing as she dispenses with her garments. Check her out too on YouTube. You’ll only need to be moderately of broadish mind.

This burlesque queen loves what she does and claims there is absolutely nothing salacious about it. She reckons for five or six minutes she gets to be a goddess up there on a pedestal. Sure she’s ogled at, but by a far more appreciative and discerning audience than would inhabit the Yellow Rose. For her, it’s all about the tease, aided by black stockings, pasties, and feather boas. Together with her fellow troupe of ladies of similar ilk, the Jigglewatts, she may one day come tour our eastern states as well.

I wonder what the Colonel would have made of her?

Kimmie Tells the story of how ‘I’m Gonna Fly’ came to be on ‘West Texas Heaven’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSQiy_4A6LA

Jolie Goodnight puts a spell on us all (NSFW) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wemb-g2flTM

The Jigglewatts in action (NSFW) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqPMyNKaQwc

2 thoughts on “Charlie Goodnight, West Texas Heaven and a Stripper

    1. Kate thanks again for GREAT in0#0ht&i823g;&#823s;I miss reading your articles every morning with my coffee and the Inquirer! I wish you all the best in your new career

      Like

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