Robert Earl Keen :: Ask Rek

On the 2nd Thursday of every month Robert will select questions from you, the fans and answer them right here!

REK will answer questions about his music, likes and dislikes, favorite memories, etc…

Submit your questions above to and check back every month to see if REK responds to your question!


October 2013

Posted on 10.01.2013


Q: I have listened to your music for 20 years now and am a huge fan of yours. Could you explain the song, “These Years” to me?

REK responds:

It’s pretty dark and murky. The narrator is a killer. My favorite device happens when the song changes from third person to first person or vice versa (can’t remember). I haven’t listened to it in years and we never worked it up as a band.

Thanks for your question!

-Joey D.    


Q: I have always wondered what it (Feelin Good Again) REALLY means. Is is a dream or a wish or what? Best song ever!

REK responds: 

The warm fuzzy feeling of being where you belong is what this song is about. Where that is, is your choice.



Q: What does “the great hank” mean?

REK responds: 

Who doesn’t love Hank Williams? I know every songwriter love him. I needed to find my secret connection or unconscious anchor to Hank. I found it was the VW Bug.

-Roger R.


Q: What’s behind “Then Came Lo Mein” and where was or is the “Chinese palace way downtown”? My wife and I are big fans of yours and have been for a long time.

REK responds: 

My last day in Nashville. I washed out and thought I had failed completely. My wife comforted me. The place was on 2nd Ave. I think.   Thanks!

-Paul R.



 1. You’re an Aggie, how on earth does an Aggie get to know Langston Hughes?

    1a. Who would you add to the story if you were writing “Goin Nowehere Blues” today?

2. Were you being your typical tongue-in-cheek (sans Copenhagen), or do you really like the writings of Charles Bowden?

3. What makes one venue “magical” and absolutely unforgettable- one you really enjoy- and others just a night’s work?

4. Were your parents really “unabashed alcoholics”?

 REK responds:

  1. Learned about him at A & M

               1a.  Heath Ledger

  1. He is my hero. Everyone should read him.
  2. The audience. So it can change as far as venues go.
  3. They liked drinking. And driving.

-Jennifer D.  



Do you ever recognize the same fans, show after show, and wonder if you are being stalked or are these folks there just to sing along to the Bucking song?

REK responds: 

I notice. Glad to have people sing along.

-Lisa F.


Q: Were there any particular literary or historical inspirations for the three song arc in Walking Distance (Carolina, New Life in Old Mexico and Still Without You)? Also, how much intention when into the making of the album as thematically tight as it is? I’ve always thought most of the songs on the album really tie together well as a unit. Maybe that’s also why there’s a palate cleansing silence before “Happy Holidays Y’all”?

REK responds: 

I wanted to make a record that was connected all the way from beginning to end. The best I could do was the “Road to No Return” which encompasses the songs you mention. The inspiration came from historically documented westward pioneers that moved through the Southwest. No one in particular. And the protagonist does take a serious left turn in “New Life in Old Mexico”. Thanks for your questions.

-William R.


Q: Love this old song ( Over The Waterfall), but I am mystified by the lyrics. What in the heck is it about?

REK responds: 

This is one of my favorite songs, I almost never play. The words were chosen by the way they sound. The story is very loose, but in general, it is a song about loss and the feeling of being absolutely alone. The tall blue girl is the waterfall if that helps.

-Susan F.


Q: Since you’re such a lyrical songwriter, I wonder about your process. Do you have any clear songwriting process, that is, do words come first or does the music? Or is it an integrated process?

REK responds: 

I always write with a guitar. The music is the engine and the words are the scenery. I do experiment with many types of lyrical expression.

-Virginia G.


Q: Just curious, how does your wife feel about your ‘relationship’ songs- the ones where you break up (Then Comes Lo Mein), make love (Night Right For Love), being apart (What I Really Mean) and all the other references (Wireless in Heaven [wife leaving for a copy] and Broken End of Love). Hope she doesn’t take the words too personally.

REK responds:  

Her favorite song is “It’s the Little Things” (That piss me off). All my really love songs are about her. The break up ones are metaphors for other parts of my life, certainly not love.

-Sheri A.


Q: In this day and age whenever one of your songs makes it onto another artists cd/album, you probably stopped being surprised by now, or do you?

REK responds:  

Shocked and delighted every single time it happens. There is not a better compliment for a songwriter.

-Brad B.


Q: When was the last time you went fishing?

REK responds: 

Last summer on the Snake River in Wyoming. I got skunked.

-Corey M.

Q: I’m wondering (since my wife and I spent out honeymoon at Big Bend many years ago)…is “Grinkgo Honeymoon” set in Boquillas, Mexico? I bet it is.

REK responds: 

Absolutely! A guy by the name of John Bachman told me if I went there, I’d write a song about it. I laughed and said, “People have told me that before.” And they had and they were wrong. John Bachman was right.

-Captain Jim W.


Q: This has been bugging me for years. Were the boys in “Shades of Gray” just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the cops got them and let them go? Or were the cops too dumb to know it was them? Seems like a lot of police effort for $900.

REK responds:

Your instinct is correct, sir. The song takes place on the night of the Oklahoma City bombings in April of 1995.

-Kevin C.


Q: What was your inspiration for “Black Baldie Stallion” and at what point in the writing of that great song did you incorporate the reference to the river of styx? Well at least that is some of my interpretation of your song. P.S. Have had the pleasure of meeting you in San Francisco and couple of other locations in CA and TX and I thank you for being so gracious to meet with your fans.

REK responds: 

Thank you for your question Archie. That song was what Townes would call a “sky song”. It fell out of the sky and I was holding the guitar when it did. The river indicates a metamorphosis or transference in this case. Hope to see you again.

Archie C.

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