Ray Wylie Hubbard's Dallas After Midnight.
There are a ton of songs about or inspired by Dallas. And they say a lot about who we are. So, each week in this space, we'll take a closer week at one of these songs — and we'll try to determine what, exactly, they say about this great city of ours.
On Ray Wylie Hubbard's 2005 album Delirium Tremolos, the folk country singer spins a yarn about a botched robbery in Dallas on the track “Dallas After Midnight.”
It makes sense that Hubbard, who first came to prominence after penning the hit “Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother” for Jerry Jeff Walker in 1973, would eventually get around to adding a Dallas tune into his repertoire.
Although he grew up in Hugo, Oklahoma, his family moved to Oak Cliff when he was just 8 years old, and he remained in the area through his years at the University of North Texas, where he majored in English.
In his song, a pair of down-on-their-luck Dallas residents decide to change their fortune by robbing a liquor store. Hubbard's gruff voice and subdued acoustic guitar strums give the impression that these aren't hardened criminals so much as desperate men making a last ditch effort to start life anew. They even had “such plans for when [they] get to Mexico.”
Still, the pair had a gun, and they thought “this is gonna be a piece of cake” as they entered the liquor store. Their naivety is further proof of the fact that their dabble in armed robbery was not a frequent occurrence.
In a place like Dallas — which leads the state with a murder rate of 13.3 murders per 100,000 residents — it's always worth assuming that someone is packing heat. Hell, Texas even allows guns in college classrooms these days. According to NeighborhoodScout's analysis of FBI reported crime data, one in every 131 Dallasites is likely to become the victim of a violent crime. That's nearly double the state average of one in every 222 city residents.
After being shot at, the duo in Hubbard's song flees their heist scene, presumably empty-handed. And, with the law on their tails, they never end up making it to “the Last Stand” to “split up the take.”
Our favorite line of the song is the big climax where the now-apprehended criminals are on trial. When the judge asks why they decided to rob the liquor store, Hubbard's character replies bluntly with a matter-of-fact “Well, your honor, it's hard to live in Dallas when you're white-trash and poor.”
While most of the song really could be about any city, this line, we'd guess, probably resonates a bit more in town where 21.8 percent of residents live below the poverty line, according to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. That number, interestingly, is five percent higher than the state average, and eight percent higher than the national average.
Even though we can't exactly relate to the desperation of being so down on our luck that holding up a liquor store seemed like the world's greatest idea, we think everyone can relate to the youthful sentiment of being “rowdy and loud” and “runnin' around with the wrong crowd.”
That and the way that just about any action — even ones as extreme as waving a gun in the face of a liquor store clerk — can be brushed off with a nonchalant chorus of “Oh, Dallas after midnight.”