Reverend King and Elvis and Mr. Crump are just our famous ghosts, the public phantoms we share. Like everyone else, Memphians have their own private ghosts. Mine is tall and skinny and bald and wears black glasses—the same ones that are back in style.
Unexpectedly, Bert asked me to move a little closer to him on the seat. I edged over and waited but he didn’t speak. After a long moment he whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “What do you think of programming for Negro people?”
Matraca listened, absorbed, and dreamed—and she didn't tell anyone she wanted to write. But she slept with an AM transistor radio under her pillow, asking herself: What makes this song work? Why does the melody do that? What are they trying to say? She experimented alone in her bedroom. At sixteen, she came downstairs and told Icie she had a confession. But she didn't talk. She picked up a guitar and played a song she'd written called "Holding You Close With My Eyes."
Every state in the South has contributed to the grand narrative of American music, but few can match Tennessee’s deep roots in the blues and jazz, gospel, soul and r&b, rockabilly, rock & roll, and country—or its tremendous concentration of historic record labels and music industry visionaries.
Upon arriving at a sharp bend in the river not far from the Gulf of Mexico, LaSalle decided this would be the spot on which the territory would be declared in honor of his illustrious king. On April 9, 1682, a large cross was placed into the fertile soil. Proper papers were prepared naming this vast territory Louisiane. It consisted of all lands adjacent to all the tributaries that flowed into the mighty river. The territory was so vast that not even 120 years later did men realize its full extent. He named it Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV. The original spelling by the French, as noted, was with an e at the end. Louisiane means "in the realm of Louis."
And don’t fret: There is country music on this record, but it is a style far removed (both geographically and philosophically) from Nashville. The cover of Bakersfield, California, stalwart Joe Maphis’s “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” is another one of Yoakam’s souped-up renditions of honky-tonk classics, while “Long Way to Go” sounds ready-made for contemporary country radio without sounding slick and soulless. The title track, meanwhile, is an excellent example of the boundaries Yoakam is willing to blur.
Nashville–based musician Cory Branan’s latest album off the Bloodshot label is aptly named: Mutt is an ambitious amalgamation of musical styles with a Leonard Cohen-like conversational approach to lyrics that’s completely lacking in coherence or cohesion. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.