While thousands marched across Texas in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, workers in Austin were finishing up preparations at the Capitol for Tuesday’s inauguration of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Their swearing-in, on a bright, clear afternoon in Central Texas, marked a complete a change in state leadership and a new era in Texas politics, so we ease into this week’s playlist of the news with pianist Bill Evans' solo rendition of “On a Clear Day.”
The easiest way to enjoy the playlist is to download Spotify, a free program. But even without it, you can still follow along. Here are the other selections for the week:
Thousands were in attendance as Abbott and Patrick took office on a massive podium on the south side of the Capitol, a gigantic Texas flag behind them. A Texas-sized barbecue followed, a parade after that. Jets soared overhead, a 21-cannon salute rattled downtown office windows and soldiers and bands and boy scouts marched up Congress Avenue. All that pomp and circumstance of course reminded us of Edward Elgar, but that seemed too easy, so we went with “Parade” by Matchbox 20.
With that final transition in place, it was time to get to work, and the state Senate did just that, voting 20-10 on Wednesday to overturn the long-standing two-thirds rule. All the lamentation and celebration around the rule’s downfall made us think of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof.
The 2016 presidential contest might seem like a long ways off, but with an already crowded field of potential contenders (many with a significant Texas connection) making moves, we unveiled our 2016 Presidential Election page. Before it’s all over, we’ll all be like Austin’s own Blaze Foley, just trying to get through “Election Day.”
Speaking of presidents: Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Tribune D.C. Bureau Chief Abby Livingston circulated around Capitol Hill after the speech. Reactions predictably fell along party lines, with Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz decrying the speech, while U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, defended it, all of which brought to mind Jaco Pastorius’ “Three Views of a Secret.”
Livingston had another story related to presidential aspirations this week as she profiled Houston lawyer Terry Giles, who heads up Republican (and noted surgeon) Ben Carson's nascent campaign for the highest office in the land. Giles has been involved with some very well-known people in his career as an attorney, including opposing Anna Nicole Smith in court. In that case, he wound up marrying an opposing attorney — so naturally we went straight to “Lawyers In Love” by Jackson Browne.
Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn started an eight-part series this week called “State of Mind: Community Concerns Come to the Capitol.” Part three of the series centers on fracking in urban areas and the growing tension therein — which got us thinking of “Way Down in the Hole” by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Late Friday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released his Senate committee assignments. The big news was his choice of second-term Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, to lead the all-important Committee on Education. Observers will be studying Patrick's selections across all the committees for clues to his political acumen, so we turned to George Jones singing “Choices.”
Finally, we announced the dates for our 2015 Tribune Festival — from Oct. 16-18, we’ll be hosting 200 speakers across 11 tracks in a kind of three-day Woodstock for wonks, so we’re closing with two pieces: recently-departed British rocker Joe Cocker singing “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and conductor Leonard Bernstein leading the New York Philharmonic in Johannes Brahms’ "Academic Festival Overture.”