Segment 19

Someone once referred to the South as a circumstance as much as a place, which is sort of how I think of the Way Back Studios. Being from Mississippi I understand the observation but I couldn’t explain it to you, even if you threatened to chunk me into a catfish pond. Based on what I found even in my spotty little record collection, it appears the states of the South have inspired more music than other parts of the country – so we’re going to explore that theory with this set of All Southern Hand Mixed Vinyl. But there are several issues to confront when doing a southern set. Like, first: define The South. If you define it as the original states that seceded from the Union, you’d have to exclude Kentucky, and that’s just wrong. If you add the states that seceded after the attack on Fort Sumter, you’ve got eleven, and that gets us to the issue of time.

We don’t have enough of it for eleven songs. So we had to cut a few states. Texas, Florida, and Arkansas got the axe and I’ll tell you why. First of all, Texas has always struck me as more Western than Southern, with all those cowboys and entanglements with Mexico. And Florida’s really more of a home for snowbirds, a pan-Caribbean retirement community for folks from the east coast. As for the so-called Natural State, it turns out it’s tough to find a good song about Arkansas in my record collection. In fact the only one I found was Springsteen’s “Mary, Queen of Arkansas” which is just too long for the set. Also, since we are in the Deep Tracks, we wanted to avoid the clichés like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “MS Queen,” and “Louisiana 1927” among others. So it ain’t perfect, but it’s what we got. So grab yourself a big plate of bar-b-cue and cornbread, turn down the NASCAR, and turn up the volume.

Loggins & Messina Back to Georgia
Jim Croce Mississippi Lady
Neil Diamond Kentucky Woman
Joan Baez Brand New Tennessee Waltz
The Rolling Stones Sweet Virginia
J.B. Lenoir Alabama
J.J. Cale Louisiana Women
James Taylor Carolina in My Mind

Concluding our Songs of the South set, that’s the original version of “Carolina in My Mind” featuring Paul McCartney on bass and an uncredited George Harrison on guitar. How’d that happen? Well James Taylor was the first non-British act signed to Apple Records. This album was recorded in 1968 at the same time and place the Beatles were doing the White Album, so Paul and George just dropped by. Now since we didn’t have enough time to do songs with the names of all the southern states, we’ll let that one stand for both North and South Carolina. Elsewhere in the set, “Louisiana Women,” “Mississippi Lady,” and “Kentucky Woman.” J.J. Cale, Jim Croce, and Neil Diamond respectively.

In the middle of things, Joan Baez covered Jesse Winchester’s “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” followed by one from Exile on Main Street. Sure, “Sweet Virginia” could be a reference to a woman instead of the state, but it was my best option, so we went with it. After that, “Alabama” and not from Neil Young’s Harvest. Instead, from Monticello, Mississippi: J.B. Lenoir, a guy whose name you might not recognize but whose songs you do. Among the many he wrote that you know, is “You Shook Me” which Lenoir co-wrote with Willie Dixon. It was covered by dozens of artists, most famously of course, by Led Zeppelin. Some of his other songs were covered by John Mayall, Ry Cooder, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, Sting, Elvin Bishop, Johnny Winter, Bonnie Raitt, and too many more to mention.

As for a song with Arkansas in the title, I can’t help you but maybe you can help me. The only one in my collection is Springsteen’s “Mary Queen of Arkansas” and it was just too long for the set. If you know of some others, I’d be interested to hear about ‘em. Drop by my website, send me an email. I’d appreciate it. I’m Bill Fitzhugh in the Way Back Studios, saying thanks for listening and I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl sooner or later, right here in the Deep Tracks.

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