Saturday, December 04, 2004

Paying homage to Sir Doug


Today I caught up, belatedly, with a dear friend I never met. Doug Sahm (of the Sir Douglas Quintet and numerous other distinguished musical incarnations), the Crown Prince of Tex-Mex, loyal friend of Chicano/as, and a thoroughly good-hearted human being, has brought me more musical pleasure over the years than I could possibly describe. So much pleasure that on my long overdue sabbatical from Auckland University in late 1988 I set aside a week to visit San Antonio in order to see if he was playing somewhere, maybe to be able to catch a glimpse of the man, see him in the flesh working his musical magic. It was an act that scaled the heights of evidence-free decision-making. Sir Doug hadn't been living in San Antonio for years. Not satisfied with the first such advice from someone who obviously knew I sought second and third opinions. The same story. Devastated, defeated, desolate, I got in supplies and holed up in my Motel 6 for the week, writing a paper on Literacy and the Underclass. Why be happy?

I did get some more of his music on that trip -- after all, there weren't too many places in New Zealand that had his music on the shelves in 1988. Well, none that I could find. It was always a mail order job, and sometimes the stuff never arrived. I kept on listening to Sir Doug, as one does. And I will never forget the night in Brisbane at a party during some literacy conference or other when I mentioned Sir Doug, and the Crown Prince of Literacy Scholarship, Jim Gee, said: "Doug Sahm, he's my favourite. For a moment I felt twice blessed, and Jim confirmed his place -- as if he needed to -- on my top shelf. Go, Jim.

Sir Doug died on 18 November 1999 -- a fact that escaped me until this year, because I was living in Mexico and missed the news. I was devastated. Courtesy of Find a Grave I learned that Sir Doug was buried at the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in San Antonio. I won't say that this fact presented a major reason for accepting an invitation to give a plenary address at this week's National Research Conference in San Antonio. But it was certainly a consideration *grin*

So today, early this afternoon, the GPS in the rental car proved its worth, and we arrived at the cemetery on a lovely mild early winter's Saturday. Some workers directed us to Section 20 and we traced our way along the lines looking for Plot 201. It didn't take long to find. We found Sir Doug buried alongside his parents, who also died rather young.

The following links will take you to the Doug Sahm pages and Kilian Mathis's Ultimate Doug Sahm Discography.

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