In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Southern Rockers
  • Joshua Guthman (bio)

Click for larger view
View full resolution

It is impossible to overlook the shame of the Stars and Bars, but what about the sound of the music itself? There lies glory. Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert, New Brockton, Alabama, 2008, courtesy of Jayuzi, under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License.

[End Page 141]

Let’s be honest: Southern rock is a critically despised genre, a redneck sound draped in the Confederate flag and fueled by an oh-so-’70s mix of Jack Daniels and Quaaludes. But the genre’s critics have it only partly right. It is impossible to overlook the shame of the Stars and Bars, but what about the sound of the music itself? There lies glory—especially if you turn it up real loud.

10. The Allman Brothers Band

The genre’s progenitors? I wouldn’t be so quick to place the Allmans at the moment of creation. But it is true they exhibit all that is good and bad about southern rock—the heady mix of blues, rock, country, and soul, on the one hand, and the never-ending on-stage “jam” burdening that other hand like so much deadweight.

9. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Only Elvis’s music lies buried beneath more heaps of cultural symbolism. But that’s what you get for playing in front of the Rebel flag and sparring with Neil Young over the meaning of southern manhood.

8. Lucinda Williams

Oh, she can sing it sweet, but, Lord, have you heard Williams when she plugs in? A voice like a branding iron.

7. Uncle Tupelo

The Rust Belt meets the Bible Belt. The post-industrial descendants of the white southern migrants who found themselves exiled to the steel mills and automobile factories of the Midwest.

6. Gram Parsons

The pre-eminent country-rocker, a radiant songwriter, and a man who died far too young. Did you know that his corpse was stolen and set alight in the deserts of California before it could be flown back to New Orleans for burial? Talk about southern gothic.

5. The Sir Douglas Quintet

They hailed from Texas and summoned the sounds of Mexico. But, please, don’t call ’em Tex-Mex. Makes their music sound like a bowl of bad chili when in fact they were serving up the sweetest stew of borderland soul imaginable.

4. Drive-By Truckers

Latter-day chroniclers of what they call “the duality of the southern thing.” [End Page 142]


Click for larger view
View full resolution

She can sing it sweet, but, Lord, have you heard her when she plugs in? A voice like a branding iron. Lucinda Williams, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England, 2008, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License.

3. The Band

“They’re from Canada!” you scream. “The South ’tis but a state of mind,” I reply.

2. Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (a.k.a. The Swampers)

Unseen but always heard. The house band at fame Studios before opening up their own shop in 1969, these guys laid down the beats behind (take a deep breath) Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Bob Seger, Willie Nelson, the Staple Singers, Traffic, the Oak Ridge Boys, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart, among others.

1. Elvis Presley

The original southern rocker. The great white whale of American culture, in Greil Marcus’s words: a musician, an idea, a force, a living metaphor of the sins and virtues of the South. [End Page 143]

Joshua Guthman

Joshua Guthman is the music editor of Southern Cultures and an assistant professor of history at Berea College, where he teaches American cultural and religious history. He is writing a book about Primitive Baptists and the evangelical self in antebellum America.

...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 141-143
Launched on MUSE
2009-08-13
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.