In 1970, rancher Hondo Crouch bought the town of Luckenbach and its accompanying dance hall for $30,000. In turn, he established a spot in the road that is legendary among Texans and Texas music. In short, the place is downright magical.
For reasons I cannot articulate, I manage to end up there at least once a year to hang out and enjoy the laid back atmosphere. According to their motto, "everybody is somebody in Luckenbach" and it's that kind of positive atmosphere that led Hondo to call the tiny burgh under towering live oaks "a free state... of mind."
My kids love it but they don't know why. My wife loves the place for precisely the same reason I do. It is a spot that screams "Texan."
As a kid, I can remember the song by the same name as the town playing in our country home as the wind and the sounds of the cicadas drifted through the windows during the hot North Texas summers. In a way, being in Luckenbach, Texas and thinking of the Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings song takes me back in time.
Here's a little from the Handbook of Texas on-line:
"In 1971 Benno Engel sold Luckenbach to John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, qv from nearby Comfort. Kathy Morgan and Guich Koock also bought into the town as Crouch's partners. Styling himself the "mayor" and "Clown Prince of Luckenbach," Crouch, a former swimming champion, actor, and columnist, declared Luckenbach "a free state...of mind" and successfully turned the small community into a foil of the nearby "Texas White House” Lyndon Johnson's place down the Pedernales at the LBJ Ranch. In 1973 singer/songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his best-selling album Viva Terlingua in Luckenbach.
Frequent festivals including an annual Mud Daubers' Day, an annual Hug-In, a women's chili cook-off, the Luckenbach Great World's Fair, and the Non-Buy Centennial Celebration (a takeoff from the Republic of Texas Bicentennial in 1986), to which the Prince of Wales and Elizabeth Taylor were invited, brought tens of thousands of people to the pastoral setting.
Popularized in regional culture as the place where "Everybody is Somebody," Luckenbach achieved legendary proportions in 1977, the year after Hondo's death, when the Waylon Jennings’ hit song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" became a national favorite.
The town attracted both professional and amateur musicians who enjoyed the laid-back, historic atmosphere. State historical markers for the Luckenbach school and town of Luckenbach were erected in 1982 and 1986, respectively. At the beginning of the new millennium the Texas Almanacqv gave the population of Luckenbach as twenty-five, even though the marker for tourists at the entrance to "old" Luckenbach gave the population as three. A Luckenbach Club continued to meet seasonally at the old school to maintain the grounds and to support what remained of a sense of community."