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Happy Trails

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"I decided to do it in Phoenix," he says. "Well, it didn't glue together real well at all. I was fit to be tied. I'd spent a lot of time and a lot of money in there. So, finally, someone mentioned Clarke's name, and he came in. Twenty-five, 30 hours later, I said, 'I think I love you,' and he said, 'Okay, great.' That sounds gay, but that ain't it. Anyway, we had a good time, we enjoyed each other's company, so we've been doing it ever since. He's the best."

Rigsby returns the compliment. "I've had more fun with him in the studio than anybody I've ever worked with, and I've worked with a lot of people. We work long hours, sometimes 26 or 27 hours straight, but it was always fun."

Rigsby says Garrett has taken him under his wing, and educated him about the music business.

"I've always tried to stay out of the business side, and just concentrate on music, which is really a stupid attitude to have," Rigsby says. "But he was deep into the music business, so I've gotten a different perspective from working with him.

"He always shares whatever credit and money with the guys who are actually doing the gig, unlike a lot of producers, particularly from that era. A lot of 'em didn't know what the hell they were doing, but they would get the percentage and nobody else would get any of it. He's never been like that."

Shortly after he moved to Sonoita in 1992, Garrett and his wife, Yolanda, divorced after 30 years together. These days, his four daughters with Yolanda are all grown and living in different states. Garrett and his current companion, Nettie, share the property with two dogs (Ranger and Ruby) and a quarterhorse named Pecos. Garrett regularly indulges his passion for movies, particularly old film noirs. While living in L.A., he started the second videocassette company in the United States, Nostalgia Merchant. At the mention of Billy Wilder's classic Double Indemnity, he gushes, "We just watched that last night."

But even in this idyllic environment, Garrett finds that he can't keep his mind from racing.

"I don't sleep very well," he says. "I've been up so long now, and I love being up. So I'm always active, always writing notes, and thinking about what I want to do, and whether I really want to do it."

He long ago stopped keeping up with the mercurial trends in pop music, but he doesn't sound bitter or negative about contemporary music. He simply wishes that the business had the same sense of immediacy it did when he could cut a record and see it hit the stores in 10 days.

"Today, to release a record, you've gotta have three managers, an agent, and somebody to talk about a release two and a half years from now," he says.

But in his cowboy haven, Garrett doesn't have to worry about such things. Even when he was fully immersed in the business, this self-described "totalitarian dictator" never really answered to anyone. These days, he only does what he wants to, when we wants to. It's no coincidence that he's decided to call his new label I Liked It So I Released It Records.

Certainly, the Edwards-Allen collaboration qualifies as a project he likes. He excitedly walks to his bedroom and pops the cassette in the tape deck. "I'm really proud of it," he says. For just a moment, you can see the Garrett that L.A. engineers and studio musicians must have seen. He snaps his fingers in time to the music, softly sings along with each yodeler's lament, but also feels obliged to note that he still plans to add some instrumentation to flesh out the tracks.

Garrett closes his eyes for a moment, with a rapturous look on his face. You sense that he's far away, maybe at that old Oak Cliff movie theater where his dreams took shape half a century ago. Once again, Snuff Garrett is just playing cowboys.

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: [email protected]

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Gilbert Garcia
Contact: Gilbert Garcia