I’m not an avid listener of The Ticket, but my husband was tuned into "The Hardline" this afternoon, and one of the prevailing topics was trash and recycling. Amid the discussion, Mike Rhyner and Corby Davidson played the clip of Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s guitar performance of "The Eyes of Texas", which first aired at the 1986 Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, and launched the Texas Department of Transportation’s "Don’t Mess With Texas" campiagn to combat highway litter.
I’m not a Texas native — ended up here by marrying a Texas boy — so I had never heard the Texas fight song rendition from Vaughan, one of Oak Cliff’s most heralded sons. (Until recently, I didn’t even realize that "Don’t Mess With Texas" was a phrase trademarked by TxDOT.) The way Rhyner and Davidson were talking about the commercial, however, it apparently was a significant cultural moment.
A website touting the book that tells the story of "the most successful antilitter campaign in history" includes 26 of the PSA commercials in in which celebrities uttered, sang or somehow alluded to the slogan, starting with Vaughan in 1986 all the way up to LeAnn Rimes in 1998. Website visitors can vote for their favorite commercial. Right now Vaughan’s commercial has 14 percent of the votes, but another 1986 commercial featuring Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88’s is the winner by a longshot, with 48 percent of the votes.