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At the Burton Roadhouse building on North Railroad Street in Burton—a town of nearly three hundred just off U.S. 290 between Austin and Houston—there was a party the other night to celebrate the seventy-seventh birthday of country singer Jeannie C. Riley, who lives in nearby Brenham. Like many of the guests who packed the rambling, historic, cement-floored building, a Burton resident named Susan Luikens went up to Riley at one point in the evening and asked her to sign a CD of Harper Valley P.T.A. The album’s title song, released in 1968, was a huge crossover hit for the West Texas–born Riley, jump-starting her country music career and becoming a cultural touchstone for its in-your-face manifesto criticizing the Establishment’s sexism and double standards. Written by…
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