Charlie Robison stunned the Texas Music / Red Dirt world in September of 2018 when he abruptly announced his retirement. Blaming a surgical procedure that permanently injured his ability to sing, he decided it was time to hang it up as opposed to continue the fight. “It’s been an amazing ride and I cannot tell you all what the last 25 years has meant to me. I was looking forward to another 25 but as they say ‘shit happens,'” Robison said in a statement. “I thank you all for everything you’ve given me and I hope I was able to give you a fraction of the happiness you gave me. It was a hell of a ride but as they say all good things must end.”
We didn’t even get a proper moment to say goodbye, to see that one final concert at Floore’s Country Store, or Gruene Hall. There was no farewell tour, no funeral to pin our sorrows upon. It was just over.
Many artists sing about how the women in Texas are more beautiful and the beer is always cold. But Charlie Robison makes you believe it. Many sing about cities and towns in Texas, the state’s rugged landscapes, the rivers, and the historic dancehalls. But only Charlie Robison puts you right there. The oil rigs near Houston, or the little places in Pecos that Charlie sings about aren’t many miles away. They’re right there in your mind whenever Charlie Robison is singing.
That is why a lucky few were so stunned when Charlie Robison showed up to perform at a private party as part of the West of Pecos Rodeo this last week, briefly bucking his retirement. We don’t have a whole lot of info of what exactly happened and why, but we do know from the video below that he sang one of his signature songs, “Loving County,” which was appropriate. The least populated county in the United States is located just north of Pecos out in West Texas.
It very well could have just been a one-off engagement, and no more. But as a fan, you hold out hope. It’s never over until it’s over. The fact that Charlie is still around, and we know he has at least some capacity still to play and sing, perhaps there may be a little more of it in the future. We still don’t know exactly what happened with the surgical mishap either, but John Prine had major Cancer in his neck, had significant parts of his throat and mouth removed, and had to learn to talk again. But eventually, he got back out there to sing, even if it was at a disadvantage.
Nobody cared if John Prine sounded different though. It was John Prine. And it’s Charlie Robison. The songs are what matter, like “Loving County.” Charlie Robison has earned his retirement. But if he every wanted to return just as a solo acoustic performer singing his songs, people would still be here for it.
Here’s to Pecos.
I honestly didn’t have Charlie Robison temporarily (one night only) coming out of retirement on my 2022 bingo card. I’d put his first album (life of the party) up against any of the old school Texas guys. So many great songs. pic.twitter.com/45zwaafqRu— Orphan Welles (@oilmantexas1) June 25, 2022