As you might know, my wife/writing partner Laura Ainsworth and I live in Texas (I was born here, she got her as fast as she could.) So it falls to me to report some sad news for all the world, but especially for us Texans.
First, the great Texas-based singer B.J. Thomas released a statement revealing that he’s receiving treatment for stage four lung cancer. The winner of five Grammy Awards for his many pop, gospel and country hits such as “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love” and “(Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” Thomas said he’s hopeful for a full recovery, but added, "I ask all of you for your prayers during this time and that my music can live on with you."
We saw him in concert just last year, and he sounded as great as ever. We hope you’ll join us in praying for his recovery so that he can keep on making wonderful music for years to come.
Also, it’s almost too much for the Lone Star State to have to bear, in one year, the pandemic, the winter storm/blackout, the Biden border policies, the death of Jerry Jeff Walker, and now the loss of the official Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Texas, Larry McMurtry. He died Thursday night of heart failure at 84.
McMurtry was one of America’s greatest novelists and screenwriters, but he was particularly beloved here in Texas, and he loved Texas in return, and set almost all of his books here. I attended his alma mater, the University of North Texas, where the reverence for him is super-concentrated.
McMurtry gave the world some of the greatest novels of the past half-century, many of which became hit movies, including “Terms of Endearment;” “Horseman, Pass By” (which became the Paul Newman movie “Hud”); “The Last Picture Show;” and of course, “Lonesome Dove,” which spawned the classic TV miniseries with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. The movies of his works racked up 34 Oscar nominations and 13 wins. “Lonesome Dove” alone scored 18 Emmy nominations and seven wins.
I was working in Connecticut when “Lonesome Dove” first aired, and I enjoyed coming to work every morning to be peppered with questions from incredulous co-workers, asking if it was really like that in Texas: did we really have blue northers and poisonous snakes that live in the water and Texas Rangers who could quell a riot single-handed? I loved telling them, “Of course we do. Doesn’t everybody?”
If you’re not familiar with McMurtry, do yourself a favor and watch the original “Lonesome Dove” miniseries, or better yet, read the book (best yet, do both.) You’ll want to work your way further in from there. Granted, some of the novels are better than others (I wasn’t too crazy about the “Lonesome Dove” sequel and prequels, and I generally prefer his historical novels to his contemporary ones like “All My Friends Are Going to be Strangers”), but hey, not even Ranger Captain Woodrow F. Call could hit the bullseye with every shot. Well, come to think of it, maybe he could...