Vol. 21, No. 3: Music

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Vol. 21, No. 3: Music

Our 7th Music Issue packs quite a set: Johnny Cash’s last interview, Emmylou Harris as the widow of Nashville, Muscle Shoals and the rise of FAME Recording Studios, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Dutch band Normaal, huapango arribeño musicians and the making of a “Mexican South,” the remaking of Beale Street, a newly discovered ballad of Ella May Wiggins, the community of New Orleans musicians, and more.

Front Porch: Music Vol. 21

by Harry L. Watson

"[I]n a long history of poverty, defeat, and suffering on all sides . . . music in multiple forms became an indispensable source of solace, renewal, and strength."

In Memoriam: Michael O’Brien: 1948–2015

by Harry L. Watson

We at Southern Cultures, and southern scholars generally, will always remember Michael for his brilliant insights and penetrating criticisms, unfailingly delivered with kindness, generosity, and wry, self-deprecating humor. His loss is a painful blow to everyone who takes the South seriously.

“You Have to Call Me the Way You See Me”

by Johnny Cash

"Look, I appreciate . . . all the praise and the glory, but it doesn't change the way I feel about anything, really. I just do what I do and just hope the people enjoy it and just try to be myself in whatever I do."

“You Sleep with None and You Wake with Ghosts”: Emmylou Harris as the Widow of Nashville

by Marcus Desmond Harmon

"Emmylou Harris's post-Parsons work is a celebration of complicated grief, casting about for ways to both 'move on' and stay faithful to the past."

Southern Borderlands: Music, Migrant Life, and Scenes of a “Mexican South”

by Alex E. Chávez

"The strumming of stringed instruments booms out through the PA, elaborate fiddle melodies erupt, followed by the soaring voice of the poet-practitioner, embracing those present, scanning the scene before him . . . drifting, shaping, moving verses that elicit a chorus of gritos."

Helping Pave the Road to FAME: Behind the Music of Muscle Shoals

by Christopher Reali

"'We took time, there was no set pattern to how we recorded. We might record all day, go eat a hamburger, and record 'til midnight. I mean we didn't have no three-hour sessions. No such thing.'"

“Nice to Meet You, Three, Four”: New Orleans Musicians and the Attractions of Community

by Michael Urban

"'I think that everyone who lives here and plays music feels honored in some way, you know. It's a real privilege to be able to live in New Orleans and play music.'"

Rebel Rock

by Maarten Zwiers

"'I am proud to be a farmer in the lowlands / A place where even squares can have a ball . . .'"

John Elkington and the Remaking of Beale Street

by Cathryn Stout

"In 1988 and '89 I started convincing people to come down there. [W]hen I got B.B. King, which took me seven years, that's really when it completely turned."

The Saga of Ella May Wiggins

by Annette Cox

"'Men say mill folks are rotten / an' mean down to the core, / But if you seen your chillern starve, / wouldn't you ask fer more?'"

A Black Man Tells His Son the Whole Story

by Lenard D. Moore

"For fifty years I sweat my dues, / wept salt liquor from the blues. / This story I tell wherever I go."

B.B. King: September 16, 1925–May 14, 2015

by William R. Ferris

"Wherever there is suffering, wherever loneliness, wherever love is felt, your spirit, your voice, your music will be heard."

Guy Carawan: July 27, 1927–May 2, 2015

by Michael K. Honey

"No one I knew, not even Pete Seeger, could make that banjo ring with the sounds of the Appalachian mountains the way Guy could."

Southern Side Trip: Playlist

by Aaron Smithers

We pulled off the main road, rolled down the windows, and drove toward the music. Tune into this playlist from our 2015 Music Issue, featuring off the beaten tracks suited to summer wanderings.