Let’s start an article about the history of the creation of the song La Grange by the famous band ZZ Top with a story about a small but very famous provincial brothel. This institution has worked at the Chicken Ranch near the Texas town of Lagrange since the beginning of the twentieth century. According to the regulars, it was quite decent (as far as it is possible for such an institution) and was very popular with the public.
Over the years, his reputation only grew stronger, and incomes grew. But it couldn’t go on like this forever. In 1972, the brothel, by then turned into a local landmark, interested television reporter Marvin Zindler. He conducted an investigation (however, what was there to investigate if every coyote in those parts knew what was happening at the Chicken Ranch), raised a fuss in the media, put it on the ears of the authorities – and the brothel was closed.
It may seem that there is nothing remarkable in this story? Surely there are many dens in the world that have been operating for decades. But it is unlikely that many of them were immortalized in the theater, cinema and music. And this now legendary institution was dedicated to the musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. It was then made into a wonderful comedy film starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.
The story of creation and the meaning of the song La Grange ZZ Top
But we are more interested in the aforementioned song La Grange, which the group ZZ Top wrote about that very house of debauchery. Moreover, bass player Dusty Hill himself was his client.
Here is what he later recalled:
Have you ever seen the movie “The Nicest Whorehouse in Texas”? That’s what she’s about. I went there when I was thirteen. A lot of Texas boys, when it came time to be boys, went there to make it happen. Fathers took their sons there. There was no swearing. You couldn’t drink there. There was an atmosphere of respectability. Miss Edna would not tolerate such nonsense. This is the woman who ran the place, and, you know, she certainly didn’t look like Dolly Parton. I tell you, it was a woman of nasty appearance. But there were also oil workers and senators.
The place has been running for over a hundred years, and then this jerk decides that he will expose everyone and close it. And he raised such a stench that it was forced to close. Lagrange is a tiny town, and small towns in Texas are really conservative. But they were against it. They didn’t want it closed because it was kind of a tourist attraction. He was at a small ranch out of town – The Chicken Ranch.
So we wrote this song and released it. She left, I think, three months before it was closed. This infuriated me. It was a brothel, but if something goes on for a hundred years, there must be a reason.
Musically, the composition is based on a traditional riff known to blues lovers from John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen”, Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and some other songs.
Release and achievements
La Grange was released as a single from the album Tres Hombres (1973). She climbed to number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The composition is included in the lists of the 100 best guitar tracks by Rolling Stone and Q.
Cover versions of La Grange were recorded by Junkie XL, Molotov and other bands.
Video of La Grange by ZZ Top
Let’s listen to the legendary track of the cult band.
- The song sounds in the films “Shanghai Noon”, “Armageddon”, “Striptease” and other famous films.
- Under it, several famous American wrestlers entered the ring.
- In 1992, ZZ Top was sued by the owner of the rights to the song Boogie Chillen, but the judge ruled that the melody had long since become public domain.
La Grange Lyrics by ZZ Top
Rumor spreadin’ ’round
In that Texas town
About that shack outside La Grange
And you know what I’m talking about
Just let me know
If you wanna go
To that home out on the range
They got a lot of nice girls
Well, I hear it’s fine
If you got the time
And the ten to get yourself in
A hmm, hmm
And I hear it’s tight
Most every night
But now I might be mistaken
Ah have mercy
Lyrics of La Grange by ZZ Top Alternate
There were rumors
Through Texas town
About that hut near Lagrange
Well you know what I’m talking about
If you’re gonna
In that house in the open
They have a lot of cool girls there.
Class, I heard
Did you find time
And ten to get there
And I heard it’s packed
almost every night
Although maybe I’m wrong
Ah, have mercy