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The Playlist: On the Trail

It’s less than a year until the first presidential primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the 2016 race is already well underway, so we start off this week's playlist off the news with a campaign-themed set.

It’s less than a year until the first presidential primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the 2016 race is already well underway.

Two candidates with Texas roots — Ted Cruz and Rand Paul — have formally declared, while Rick Perry is doing everything a candidate does. On the Democratic side, it seems certain Hillary Clinton is going to throw her hat in the ring on Sunday. So we’re starting this week’s playlist off the news with a campaign set: “Three On The Trail," by Riders In The Sky, an Oscar Peterson-led jam on Ferde Grofé’s “On the Trail,” Greg Brown playing “Iowa Waltz” and Scary Mansion’s “New Hampshire.”

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:

On Tuesday, a week after Cruz announced his candidacy, Paul, the Kentucky senator, followed suit. In that and other recent speeches and interviews, Paul seems to be out to build a big tent with Libertarian stakes in the ground, so we looked up the Magnolia Sons singing “The Stakes Are High.”

Cruz, the first major candidate to enter the race, has had a couple of very good weeks. In the first week, his campaign said it blew right past fundraising goals; on Wednesday, they announced his super PACs would raise a whopping $31 million, silencing one of the major questions about his candidacy right out of the gate, so here’s the Johnny Burnette & The Rock and Roll Trio playing  “Honey Hush.”  

Perry was on the road as well, emphasizing his faith and values credentials to an audience in South Carolina on Tuesday. On Friday, both he and Cruz both spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual spring meeting in Nashville. In his speech, Cruz invoked the Battle of Gonzales cry “Come and Take It,” so here’s Austin’s own Two Hoots and a Holler playing their song of the same name.

It’s hard to find a prospective candidate without considerable ties to the Lone Star State, but even absent that, Texas remains a big player in presidential politics, from deep-pocketed donors to high-profile bundlers. With that in mind, the Tribune is stepping up its 2016 presidential coverage, with everything from a 2016 landing page to pages devoted to Perry and Cruz, to dedicated Twitter feeds and news wires to our TedTracker, which will let you follow the candidate on the campaign trail.  

And of course our reporters will lead the way. D.C. Bureau Chief Abby Livingston has the race covered from the Washington side, political reporter Patrick Svitek the Texas — with both regularly hitting the trail with the candidates themselves. We’re also gearing up for a weekly presidential podcast with veteran Jay Root and KUT NewsBen Philpott. We’re excited about all these offerings around what will surely be a momentous campaign to be the next to occupy the White House, so here’s “Hail to the Chief” by the Civil War Fiddlers.

The presidential race might be heating up in a hurry, but things are rapidly rising to a boil in the Texas Legislature as well. On Wednesday, a Texas House Committee began considering measures that would lower — or, in one case, even abolish — penalties for possession of marijuana. Reporter Terri Langford covered the hearing and filed a story with the headline, “Don't Fear the Reefer: House Mulls Lower Pot Penalties,” so you can probably guess where this is going: Pick up your cowbell and play along, here’s Blue Oyster Cult and “Don’t Fear The Reaper.”

On Thursday morning, Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith interviewed state Sen. (and former mayor of Tyler) Kevin Eltife at the Austin Club. Eltife, long known for his willingness to go his own way in the Senate, was as forthright as ever, telling Smith that lawmakers who talk about their re-election prospects when the Legislature’s in session “should be shot,” reminding us of The Sonics playing “Shot Down.”

In his State of the State speech in February, newly-sworn in Gov. Greg Abbott called for major ethics reform. On Friday, Jay Root wrote about just how hard it is for lawmakers to regulate themselves — a proposed amendment to one ethics reform bill, possibly up for consideration on Monday, aims to defer any changes until 2017, giving legislators the opportunity to retire if they don’t want to meet its requirements. Here’s “Watered Down” by Big Little Lions.

Saturday, Root and Jim Malewitz wrote about Sid Miller, Texas’ new agriculture commissioner. His first few months in office have been troubled at times, with another former ag chief, Susan Combs, saying, “... I don’t think he really understood what it means to be a statewide elected official.” For his part, the colorful Miller says the billion-dollar agency is doing great, but that he got off to a “rocky start with the media,” reminding us of Hello Saferide’s “Rocky.”

Finally, in a moving ceremony at Fort Hood, victims of the horrific 2009 mass shooting that left 13 dead and dozens wounded were awarded Purple Hearts. The federal government originally classified former Maj. Nidal Hasan’s rampage as “workplace violence,” but after five years and efforts led by the Texas congressional delegation, the eligibility requirements for the award — and the benefits that come with it — were expanded. We close out this week’s playlist with Anthony Belfiglio’s “Fort Hood Elegy,” and, to accompany photographer Bob Daemmrich’s slideshow from the ceremony, “Taps,” played here by Staff Sgt. Steve Luck.

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