In a place where we have few trees and a lot of wind, I’ll risk it and go out on a limb to say that Texas may be a part of the New South. Texas doesn’t believe that, but still, there’s a common bond. Almost. I think it was Leon Stokesbury who I first heard define the Southern poem. He thought such a poem likely included a big dose of heartbreak and comic sensibility featuring family, landscape, and religion in varying degrees and combination. I hear these same quirky, dusty, open-sky, heartfelt mixtures in the songs of Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, the Dixie Chicks (don’t judge), and more recently, Amanda Shires.
One of the central themes of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s fiction concerns the varying identities that people—especially women—worry over, the personas they adopt and adapt for their own purposes. In her latest collection, Almost Famous Women, Bergman explores the stories of thirteen women whose lives and achievements have been lost to the main stream of contemporary memory.
OA contributing editor Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More, spoke with Bergman about her new book, the writing life, and “trying on ways of being female.”
"Some country songs sound like they have simply always existed," Rick Clark wrote of Hayes Carll's "Chances Are" in the liner notes of our Texas Music Issue CD. Lee Ann Womack's version of the song, from last year's The Way I'm Livin' (her first release in six years), is track 18 on the disc. Today we are happy to premiere the video of the in-studio live recording, courtesy of our friends at Sugar Hill Records.
Before Berry Gordy started Motown—before Russell Simmons and Suge Knight were even born—Don Robey epitomized what it meant to be a black music mogul. Working in Houston from the 1930s until his death in 1975, Robey discovered Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. His record company released the original version of “Hound Dog,” and he made Bobby “Blue” Bland a star. Ike and Tina Turner, B.B. King, and Little Richard were clients of his booking agency, and T-Bone Walker, “Big” Joe Turner, and Wynonie Harris all regularly graced the stage at his nightclub, where legendary after-parties saw the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe jamming with Big Bill Broonzy and Louis Jordan.
The staff of the Oxford American is delighted to welcome you to the new OxfordAmerican.org. The website, built by Little Rock's Pixel Perfect Creative, has been reorganized for usability, and the design—created by OA art director Tom Martin—reflects our quarterly print edition. A starting point for exploration might be the following essays, which were among the most-visited stories on our website in 2014.