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The Playlist: King’s Special

This week's playlist based on the latest Texas politics and policy news is dedicated to the King of the Blues, the late B.B. King.

Our plans for The Playlist were upended by the passing of a giant of American music, so every song in this week’s edition is by or connected to B.B. King. To kick off this all blues set, here’s B.B. playing and singing “When the Saints Go Marching In,” from an all-star set at Royal Albert Hall from 2011.

The easiest way to enjoy our regular news-themed 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:

If you were in downtown Austin early Wednesday morning, the loud thumps emanating from offices all along Congress Ave. between 7th St. and MLK Blvd. were  lobbyists, staffers and journalists banging their heads on their desks upon reading this bit from John Reynolds in The Brief: “What transpired on Tuesday was far from a kumbaya moment.” If the House and Senate can’t get together on a budget — the only thing the state Constitution requires them to do — then we’ll all be back for a special session,  so here’s King swinging the blues on “You Upset Me, Baby.”

As the week went on, though, there were hints that House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Greg Abbott, are moving toward a deal that could keep lawmakers from spending part of their summer in Austin, reminding us of B.B.’s reading of the soul classic “Summer in the City.”

Representatives of an organization called American Phoenix have filming lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists with the avowed aim of exposing hypocrisy. Last Sunday, Terri Langford broke the news that they’d turned over some 800 hours of video to Breitbart Texas, a conservative news and opinion site. Among the many as-yet unsubstantiated claims: the existence of footage of legislators “coming to Austin and having sex with people who are not their wives,” so here’s King’s “Sneakin’ Around.”

On Monday, Eva Hershaw wrote about a bill that would ensure face-to-face visitation rights for inmates in county jails. Many of the jails have instituted for-profit video visitation, which critics say has given rise to all sorts of problems, bringing to mind “Worry, Worry” from B.B. King’s legendary concert at Cook County Jail.

Tuesday, the Senate passed a measure that would give Comptroller Glenn Hegar more flexibility in how some of the billions in the state’s Rainy Day Fund are invested, so let’s listen to “Rainin’ All the Time” from B.B.’s 1968 Lucille session.

A proposed high-speed rail line that would link Houston to Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth has gotten a lot of love from the mayors of those cities, along with  staunch opposition from folks in the rural areas those trains tracks would intersect. Wednesday in TribTalk, our companion op-ed site, we ran side-by-side pieces detailing each side’s position. Here’s T-Bone Walker — B.B.’s own oft-cited blues hero — playing “That Evening Train.”

On Thursday, lawmakers in the House faced a midnight deadline to take initial votes on bills, guaranteeing a long day. Representatives were rushing to get their bills to the floor, while others used parliamentary procedures and delaying tactics to kill bills (at least in the House, for now). For those bills that didn’t make it, here’s “Blues at Midnight.”

After all the rain that parts of Texas have been getting this spring, our NewsApps team updated our app showing reservoir levels around the state. Some have filled right up; others are still parched. We remembered B.B. King and Eric Clapton’s duet on the old Tin Pan Alley standard “Come Rain or Come Shine.”

Also on Friday, news broke that former  Gov. Rick Perry will officially announce his candidacy for president on June 4. The news itself was hardly surprising — Perry’s been doing everything a candidate does for the last year or more — but this is his second attempt after a pretty disastrous run the last cycle. Patrick Svitek wrote a story detailing reasons why he might succeed, and why he might not. One thing’s for sure: stepping up to run for the highest office in the land means “Paying the Cost to Be the Boss.”

Another declared candidate was the subject of a couple of Saturday features from D.C. Bureau Chief Abby Livingston. Hillary Clinton isn’t a Texas native, but she spent some significant time here in 1972, working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Along with her then-boyfriend Bill, they cut quite a swath through Central Texas, a time remembered fondly by both in their respective memoirs. Here’s the King of the Blues singing “Days of Old.”

Finally, tickets went on sale for our annual Texas Tribune Festival, which this runs this year from Oct. 16-18. This festival, which puts 200-plus leaders from politics, government, academia and journalism in front of highly engaged audiences, is an event no close follower of Texas politics will want to miss. Early bird pricing is in effect right now, but in honor of the great B.B. King, today we’re calling it the “King’s Special." Enjoy!



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