A new episode of Points South is now playing!Subscribe today and never miss an episode. Episode Three features Arkansas’s “cemetery angel,” Ruth Coker Burks, John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Three Encounters” + a performance by Los Texmaniacs. For more information visit oxfordamerican.org/pointssouth. | Oct, 2019
Jonathan Bernstein is a research editor at Rolling Stone. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, GQ, Pitchfork, and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn.
A Points South essay from the Spring 2019 issue
Listen to the first two notes Raphael plays on his solo on Nelson’s “Georgia on My Mind” and it’s impossible not to hear Mickey singing the word “Georgia” through the instrument, the second syllable bending upward, just the way Willie sings it. Raphael’s harmonica grounds the song in its call-and-response gospel impulse: one voice means little without the other’s ghostly affirmation.
“They were brothers in music,” Ursula Covay said. “They wrote together, hung out together, traveled together, fought together, loved together, and made deals together.” That’s the word most of the children of the Soul Clan use today to describe their fathers’ bond. Brothers.
From the beginning of Sam & Dave’s career, Sam’s otherworldly high tenor overshadowed Dave’s low harmony, and for a variety of reasons—some personal, some practical, some musical—the history of the duo has been rewritten in the nearly thirty years since Prater’s death so as to diminish Dave’s contributions.