In the small, agricultural community of Drake, Kentucky—between Bowling Green and Nashville, about a half-hour north of the Tennessee border—is a small country store called Drake Vintage Music and Curios, and its proprietor, a man named Freeman Kitchens, is the most singular collector I’ve ever encountered.
Over the years, Marcus has only gotten better at answering his own question—how must the musician have felt at that moment?—and more assured at describing the experience of listening. His prose, steeped in the disparate languages of academia, prophecy, and record reviews, has always been the fun part, and a few of the essays here mark some of his most vivid, brilliant work in years.
The best compliment I ever get is people coming up to me after shows and saying they hate country music, but they love what we’re doing. Because, I think, if it’s going to survive and progress and maintain any type of relevance in the future, you have to reach people that don’t even know what country music really is.
Nashville and Memphis lay legitimate claim as Tennessee’s music cities, but we have forgotten that at one time Chattanooga was a destination for some of the best music in the South. And Ninth Street, or the Big Nine, was where you went to find it.