The South is the source of all the popular music we’ve been listening to for the past 50 or 60 years. Blues, rock’n’roll, soul, country, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, jazz – it all comes from the South and it migrated out of the Mississippi Delta, north along Highway 61 to America’s big cities, when the cottonfields became mechanised in the early 1940s.
And from those cities - Memphis, Detroit, Chicago and New York - the music spread across the planet and has become the soundtrack of our lives. Here, in the Beautiful South, we are discovering a source of living history that until quite recently we have we’ve completely overlooked.
I have long had a thing about the Deep South. Perhaps that should read “thang.” I love the accents, the people (particularly the Southern belles who are as eye-flutteringly seductive today as they were in Gone With The Wind), the turbulent history, the vast, ever-changing countryside and, most of all, the music. This is, I fear, an infatuation that can never be sated for I go back there whenever I have an opportunity and with every visit become more intoxicated.
As Susan Sontag once wrote “if you start dancing on tables, fanning yourself, feeling sleepy when you pick up a book, developing a sense of rhythm, making love whenever you feel like it – then you know. The South has got you.”