Lots of Arkansans in Tennessee edition of Oxford American Southern Music Issue | Rock Candy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lots of Arkansans in Tennessee edition of Oxford American Southern Music Issue

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM

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The Tennessee edition of the Oxford American magazine’s annual Southern Music issue and CD combo is out on newsstands now, and it’s full of music from and writing about Arkansans.

There's an amazing picture of cover star Johnny Cash, pre-fame, accompanying a lovely essay by daughter Rosanne Cash about memories of her childhood (and memories of what she was told about her childhood). 

In the warm spring before I was born, my mother told me that she would sit on the porch with a washbasin of cherry tomatoes in her lap and eat the entire bowl, staring out onto bleak Tutwiler Street, missing her parents, trying to fit into her new life. 

My parents were poor, and during her pregnancy my mother had only two dresses that fit. When I was born, my mom’s younger sister, my Aunt Sylvia, came straight from her high school graduation in San Antonio to help out. She said that there was so little money that she had to use her graduation money to pay for groceries.

Everything changed so drastically in the next three years that my parents, only twenty-one and twenty-three years old, must have been dizzy from trying to understand their own lives. Our little family grew quickly. When my mother went to the doctor for her six-week checkup after giving birth to me, she was already pregnant with Kathy, who came along ten months and twenty-three days after me. Cindy was born two years later. Meanwhile, my father had a hit record on his very first release and was suddenly a sensation, performing around the South, gathering fans, including, to my mother’s great alarm, hordes of young women who fawned and swooned from his very first performance at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis. By 1958, my dad, with his sultry good looks, had offers to appear in movies, so we left Memphis for Southern California. Three years later, Tara was born. 

A long feature on the troubled career of Colt native Charlie Rich and his tempestuous relationship with his wife and collaborator, Margaret Ann (who was from Forrest City), is another highlight. Ditto for an excerpt from Little Rock-born producer, singer/songwriter and session musician extraordinaire Jim Dickinson’s unpublished memoir.

I'm still working my way through the 176-page issue, but http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2013/dec/04/issue-83-music-tennessee/ rambling essay about the roots of ska is also predictably great, especially if you like Sullivan and reggae and ska.

Cash, Rich, Dickinson also appear on the double-CD, which is good as usual. See the tracklist here.

Obviously, there's only so much you can fit into 176 pages and 50 songs, but not touching on Memphis' strong rap scene seems like a pretty big oversight. Yes, Memphis is probably over-represented, but a mix is always improved by Jay Reatard.

The issue retails for $12.95.

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