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This Week in Texas Music History: Floyd Tillman

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll go slippin’ around with a honky-tonk legend.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Floyd Tillman was born in Ryan, Okla., on Dec. 8, 1914, although his family moved to Post, Texas, when he was just a few months old. During the 1930s, Tillman played Western swing, but by the 1940s, he was helping to shape a new sound that would come to be called honky tonk. Honky tonk bands typically played a shuffle beat, instead of the earlier swing rhythm. Honky tonk songs also reflected changing social mores following World War II, with lyrics that often focused on drinking, divorce and infidelity. Floyd Tillman wrote several honky-tonk hits, but his 1949 song “Slippin’ Around” perhaps best represents the early honky-tonk sound.

Floyd Tillman’s songs have been recorded by Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and many others. Tillman also won numerous awards, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.

Next Time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about a university that offered the nation’s first degree in jazz studies.