April 1969: Sir Douglas Quintet – Mendocino
Sir Douglas Quintet was formed in San Antonio in 1964 by Doug Sahm with his friend Augie Meyer. Sahm began his professional career as a child playing country (he played with Hank Williams, Sr. during his final performance), but gradually incorporated blues and R&B into his repertoire. As SDQ became well known in their native Texas, their music became a hybrid of sounds prominent in the southern part of the state, including Mexican, Polish, Czech, German, Cajun, and African American. Then they added a measure of Beatles before scoring a hit in 1965 with She’s About a Mover, which is one of their two best known songs. Its similarities to the Fabs’ She’s a Woman are no coincidence. Like their fellow native Texan Janis Joplin, they headed west and landed in the heart of psychedelic San Francisco, where they recorded their fantastic Mendocino album.
The music on this release is pretty straight forward country rock and Tex-Mex, with its signature sound being Augie Meyer’s Vox Continental organ complimenting acoustic and jangly electric guitars. The title track, the group’s other most famous tune, spent fifteen weeks in the Billboard Hot 100. I Don’t Want is probably the most au courant tune in the set. It could’ve been on a Byrds album. She’s About a Mover makes another appearance here in an updated version, though it’s not far from their original four years prior. At the Crossroads and Texas Me are great examples of Sahm’s soulful vocals, the former bringing to mind the Grateful Dead’s version of Morning Dew, the latter a lament of a man far from home:
Now I’m up in Sausilito, Wonder where I ought to be, An’ I wonder what happened to that man inside, The real old Texas me…
The album clocks in at 31:05, and closes out with Oh, Baby, It Just Don’t Matter, a burst of distorted, grungy goodness. I’m not a native Texan, and no matter how long I end up living here I doubt I’ll ever feel like one. The closest connection I feel to this state is when I listen to music like this. There’s such an attitude embedded in Mendocino’s grooves. It was so original, inclusive, and downright cool. It’s unpretentious country rock in the best ways. It’s for hippies, rednecks, and plain ol’ dudes like me. It can be served up with a six pack of Lone Star Beer or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Like the man sang, it just don’t matter.
- I Don’t Want
- I Wanna Be Your Mama Again
- At the Crossroads
- If You Really Want Me to I’ll Go
- And it Didn’t Even Bring Me Down
- Lawd, I’m Just a Country Boy in this Great Big Freaky City
- She’s About a Mover
- Texas Me
- Oh, Baby, It Just Don’t Matter