John O'Connor

John O'Connor is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, the original home of Gibson guitars. His writing has appeared in Open City, Post Road, Quarterly West, the New York Times, GQ, Saveur, Men’s Journal, and the Financial Times. For two years he was a foreign correspondent for Japan’s largest daily newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun. He teaches journalism at Boston College.
November 20, 2018

A feature story from the North Carolina Music Issue. 

The Wrays had an old-world, Keatsian melancholy. It bloomed in the kitchen of their 6th Street home in Portsmouth, Virginia, where, from about 1951 to ’55, they recorded songs on a one-track, mostly originals written by Vernon. This was back when the music was fun, before it became a business. It’s the sort of thing that’s dashed off and then mislaid and vanishes somewhere. Sherry found the masters in a box of her dad’s stuff that, horrifyingly, was bound for the dump. She rescued them, and named the disc 6th Street Kitchen. The vibe is Elvis doing Dylan’s Great White Wonder: gushy, drunken ballads, some barely a minute long, and rapturous in the way that the smallest beginnings can express enormous feeling.