Long-sideburned Texas-based singer-songwriter Jerry David DeCicca announced his new album The Unlikely Optimist And His Domestic Adventures over the summer with the ominously thudding lead single “I See Horizons.” The project’s second advance track is much more light and playful. It’s a rootsy jaunt called “Texas Toad,” over before you can finish DeCicca’s charming anecdote:
5 years ago, the worst flood ever came through here. Towns were wiped out, families lost their homes, people died. End times. Then, a month later, our property was covered in baby toads. It was Biblical.
I watched the baby toads traverse this hard land, trying to make their own way in the world, as hawks, owls, feral cats, and roadrunners picked them off. I sat on my front porch, Tecate in hand, and knew I needed to intervene.
I couldn’t save them all, so I chose 5 at random. I raised them as my own in a terrarium in the guest room. They were the size of the fingernail on my pinky finger. So cute and delicate.
I scooped part of an ant hill into the terrarium, because the baby toads were too small to eat anything larger. This caused problems. The ants escaped, and you can imagine… no one wants ants in their home.
So I went to the pet store and bought flightless fruit flies. Flightless Fruit flies! Try saying that three times fast. Soon, the toads grew and could eat bigger bugs. I spent that summer in the yard trying to catch their meals. It was 103 degrees and I knew I was old.
Sometimes, I buy crickets and mealworms at the pet store. I dust the bugs with vitamin D powder & feed the bugs veggies & fruit. Like us, the bugs are what they eat, so I gut-load them with nutrients. Toads need healthy food.
The toads became my pets. I love them, so I named them: Hail Hoyt, Big Hoyt, Small Hoyt, Medium Hoyt, OG Hoyt. I named them all after Hoyt Axton because he reminds me of a toad. That’s a compliment. Naturally, I wrote a song about my pet toads to celebrate them.
I asked Augie Meyers to play on it. After the session, I learned that he got kicked out of his high school in 1958 for refusing to dissect a frog. Hero! The school is across the street from the recording studio. He told me this over carne guisada tacos.
The Hoyts don’t like to be touched, but who does these days? I hope you like my new song (out today). It’s called “Texas Toad.” Please be kind to the little things in our lives. They deserve love. Everyone deserves love. “You’re not an ugly pickle, you’re a Texas Toad!”
The Unlikely Optimist And His Domestic Adventures is out 10/16. Pre-order it here.