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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Contest: Patterson Hood Commemorative Lyric Bonanza

Once upon a time, in Muscle Shoals Alabama, there was a cookin' house band, and they had this sound. Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Willie Nelson, Skynyrd...the list goes on and on...made some of the finest records ever put to wax at 3614 Jackson Hwy.

Fast forward a generation or so: Muscle Shoals Rhythm Session bassist David Hood's son, Patterson Hood, and the Drive-By Truckers release a string of albums - Gangstabilly, Pizza Deliverance, Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, The Dirty South, and A Blessing and a Curse - that put their contemporaries to shame and stand with the best of both the 70s golden age of southern rock and the 90s alt-country boom.

What can I say? Grotesque/hilarious short stories? Dense and nigh-impenetrable novels? Great songs? We sure can write good.

So, in honor of the boys (and lady) from Alabama, we're having the Hood/Cooley/Isbell DBT Songwriter's Contest.

Your job is to post in the comments the best line (or few lines) you can find from an artist from Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. It can be blues, jazz, country, whatever - the lesser known, the better; that way, we'll all be winners, as you'll introduce us to some band we've never heard of. (Bonus points will also be awarded for rare/late-career but still great/album-only tracks from more established artists.) Maybe say a bit about the band or artist as well. Heck, if you want to post a link to some songs of theirs, that's cool too.

There's a prize, too.

Difficulty: DBT and John Murry & Bob Frank are off limits, for the obvious reason where the former are concerned, and because I'm friends with the latter, and would never hear the end of it if John's writing didn't win.


Larry said...

I'm going off the grid for now. But I'll be thinking of you guys.... Back later.

The first line that occurred to me was by Thomas A. Dorsey, but he was from Georgia.

Brady said...

Tommy Dorsey? I'll allow it. Do tell!

Larry said...

Not Tommy Dorsey, the big band leader, Thomas A. Dorsey, the father of gospel music. In his early days he and Tampa Red performed as "The Hokum Boys," recording all kinds of 78s that were (and are) fairly racy.

Eventually they split up and Dorsey went off, learned how to read music and wrote gospel tunes like "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."

Anyway, the tunes by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom are still quite catchy. "There's a Cat Out on the Line" is a good one. And I think the rest can't be repeated in polite company if you know what I mean.

Then I go to thinking about New Orleans music: Louis Armstrong, Bourbon Street, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and on and on....

Dirty Dozen Brass Band:

Not exactly a line from a song, but that's the music I started thinking of....

John said...

It’s been a few years but one of the most meaningful experiences of the sixties was learning to dance- and when we say dance we mean How to Twist!
It was all in the hips, it got you movin’ to the music, and it was so rebellious.

“Yeah daddy is sleepin' and mama ain't around
We're gonna twisty twisty twisty
'Til we turn the house down”

Recorded by Chubby Checker but written by Alabama Music Hall of Fame Member, Hank Ballard (born John Henry Kendricks) (November 18, 1927 - March 2, 2003) was an African American R&B/rock singer and the lead vocalist of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.

Birth name John Henry Kendricks
Born November 18, 1927
Detroit, Michigan

Origin Bessemer, Alabama

Died March 2, 2003 (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California

Rock 'n' roll

Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter


Years active 1951 - 2003

acts Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
James Brown

I love a competition!

Gwen said...

Mary's clarification post seemed to indicate this contest would now accept lyrics from artists from the South and not just the narrow strip of the South the coast-centric Mr. Potts seemed to think encapsulated the entire region. So that surely includes Tennessee, and THAT means I have an entry:

"Now a man will take a good girl
And he'll ruin her reputation
But when he wants to marry
Well, that's a different situation

He'll just walk off and leave her
To do the best she can
While he looks for an angel
To wear his wedding band


Yes, I've made my mistakes
But listen and understand
My mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I'm a woman."

I like that it's a song about the sexual double-standard, and I like it even better that she wrote it after her husband was crushed to find out she hadn't been a virgin on their wedding night--though of course he hadn't been either. It takes some guts to call your husband out on his sexist ideas in a thoroughly public way and not be coy about the inspiration for the song.

Gwen said...

Oh, and, uh, obviously that was Dolly Parton. Duh.

b o b said...

i'd like to submit this lyric from isbell's solo album because it's awesome. and, more importantly, i totally had a nerdy fanboy moment last night when i introduced him to clyde stubblefield.

"What can you see from your window?
I can't see anything from mine.
Flags on the side of the highway
and scripture on grocery store signs."

it's especially potent when considered next to (texan, thus ineligible) bob wills' "my window faces the south"

i'd also submit randy newman's (born in cali, but raised in louisiana) "rednecks." it's only a verse of the song, but it's my favorite and i think the song summarizes the paradox that is the duality of the southern thing...

"Now your northern [nword]'s a Negro
You see he's got his dignity
Down here we're too ignorant to realize
That the North has set the [nword] free

Yes he's free to be put in a cage
In Harlem in New York City
And he's free to be put in a cage on the South-Side of Chicago
And the West-Side
And he's free to be put in a cage in Hough in Cleveland
And he's free to be put in a cage in East St. Louis
And he's free to be put in a cage in Fillmore in San Francisco
And he's free to be put in a cage in Roxbury in Boston
They're gatherin' 'em up from miles around
Keepin' the [nword]s down"

(redacted b/c i still live in madison, the city where context don't matter.)

ok. i'm drunk, and the fact that y'all are doing this fucking rules.