The 38th post in this series, listening to my cd collection in alphabetical order.
It is difficult for me to listen to Kate Campbell's "New South." Watching the reaction to marriage equality in Alabama reminds one of how little the South has changed.
Growing up in northeastern Oklahoma, I always considered myself a Southerner and resented the notion of outsiders that we were all like those of the past--prejudiced hicks. Sadly, that stereotype does remain too true.
Of course watching police violence against black men across the country, one realizes that many of our old problems remain.
With some preparation through my friendship with Tim Youmans, it was while I was living in Fayetteville, Arkansas that I drifted into listening to more folk and that genre of American music that combines the best elements of rock, blues, folk, country, and gospel (think Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams). David Breckenridge (the pastor I was associate for) and John Meadors (the husband of the other associate pastor) helped those interests along.
I'm drawn to this music that explores the American story, often expressing our longing for something better (more on that in a moment). It is usually music of the people, with a grassroots, populist feel.
I think it was David, who was from Mississippi, who gave me Kate Campbell's Monuments. Campbell's songs are narrative windows into the South. Her Wikipedia article says "Her story-filled songs feature quirky characters and often deal with the region's complex issues." The bio on her own website notes that her "eloquent gift for storytelling . . . has drawn repeated comparisons to such bastions of the Southern writing tradition as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner." High praise indeed.
Heard about a man
Went down to Selma
To take a stand
Can one heart hold
He sang some songs
About peace and love
And took a beatin'
From a billy club
Can one heart hold
It was the Sunday morning of the Austin City Limits Music Festival in September 2004, and I was driving over to the festival that morning listening to the radio where they were discussing the bands and recommended that everyone go see the group Calexico. Here's what I wrote later:
They were fantastic. I thought their mix of sounds was unique. I rushed right over to the Waterloo Records tent and bought their album, Feast of Wire. And the cd is great too. It is more mellow than the live performances, which really got you moving. I highly recommend this band if you haven't heard them.
"Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi / conjunto / cumbia / Tejano music and also the Southwestern United States country music as well as '50s-'60s jazz and '90s-'00s post-rock," according to their Wikipedia article.
They remind me of Woody Guthrie. They eloquently sing of the longing for a better country. Here are the lyrics for the song "Sunken Waltz:"
Washed my face in the rivers of empire
Made my bed from a cardboard crate
Down in the city of quartz
No news, no new regrets
Tossed a susan b. over my shoulder
And prayed it would rain and rain
Submerge the whole western states
Call it a last fair deal
With an american seal
And corporate hand shake