Austin has been called the Live Music Capital of the World. It’s been said that “you can’t swing a dead cat in Austin without hitting a musician.”
“Swing a dead cat” is a popular Texas term, applied to other situations as well as this one.
A Lesson in Texas Language
You might hear Texans say the term “swing a dead cat,” however I can assure you that even cat lovers might use the expression. I’m not sure how to define it exactly, but used in a sentence it might sound like this: “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks [Coffee House] around here.” Your uninitiated foreign ears might hear “Y’all cain’t swang a dead cat ‘thout hitt’n’ a Starbucks ‘round hyar.” That, of course, is the proper pronunciation.
Tucson Weekly (January 14, 1998)
As everyone knows, you can’t swing a dead cat in Austin without hitting a musician, so Silver Scooter’s wide appeal—not to mention the fact that they were chosen as one of Austin’s 10 best pop bands in the 1997 Austin Music Awards—is nothing to sneeze at.
49 Posted on 07/06/2001 09:40:15 PDT by wku man
Amen, bro! I was stationed at Ft. Hood, and Austin was my playground. On 6th St., you can’t throw a rock without hitting a musician, and you can’t take five steps without seeing a drop-dead gorgeous woman.
Telecommunications Americas, August, 2002
But Austin has a great music scene. There’s parts of town where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting live music.
(Editor’s note—Jack Rice categorically denies using the word “literally” as quoted in the line “You literally can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a band at South By Southwest”, although he does concede that it’s probably true.)
Austin Chronicle (August 25, 2006)
And of course, you couldn’t swing a dead cat in Lawrence, Kan., last weekend without hitting an Austin musician in town for the third annual North vs. South Music Festival.
Silent & Gray
Monday, October 09, 2006
That’s Austin. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting four semi-famous guitar slingers who are all perfectly willing to back each other up with dollar store harmonicas if necessary. The brooms, pots and pans aren’t safe in this town. If you’ve got two functional hands and a rubber band, you’re in.
Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Seattle Music Scene: A Texan checks out the NW vibes
By HELEN ANDERS
AUSTIN (TEXAS) AMERICAN-STATESMAN
In Seattle, as in Austin, it’s hard to swing a busted guitar without hitting a musician. The difference is that in Austin, the musician probably would pick up the guitar and try to make a piece of art out of it. In Seattle, he’d grab it and whale you back, demanding to know what entitled you to have a guitar in the first place.
Guitar art from the heart:
Whimsical creations for Gibson’s fundraising project in Austin are headed for the auction block.
By Shermakaye Bass
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
There’s a saying in this town: You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a musician.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (2) Comments • Thursday, July 05, 2007 • Permalink
Hello there -
There is another funny Texasism (or Louisiana-ism)referring to cats. Below, you’ll see where I used it in my lede in a New York Times Travel story back in 1998. Apparently, we like feline analogies down here.
MELTING POT, WITH CHILI
BY SHERMAKAYE BASS
Published February 15, 1998
“One way to sum up Austin is to paraphrase an old Texas saying: Defining the town is LIKE HERDING CATS. As the capital of Texas and home to one of the largest universities in the country, Austin is an ideological melting pot: a literary haven and a slackers’ den, a music mecca and a film-industry outpost. Dreadlocks and multicolored coifs are as common as pompadours, shags, Hillary bobs, flattops and, in the folksy diners and suburban malls, the Big Blond Do. ...”
(originally from La.)
As a 6 generation Austinite,I have never heard of this phrase.