Saturday, 11 April 2009
My teenage obsession with REM means I've always had a soft spot for their home state and thanks to my 'American cousin' John Barner living there I've been able to visit a few times.
I vividly remember my first trip to Georgia, traveling along the kudzu lined highway in a Greyhound bus, listening to a tape of Murmur on my Walkman and being reminded of all the weird Southern images conjured up in those early REM songs.
Georgia has inspired hundreds of songs and I've really enjoyed choosing the seven here. If there are any you think I should have included and haven't please leave a comment below. In the meantime fix yourself an ice tea, imagine you have a porch, and enjoy these selections.
MP3: Ray Charles - Georgia on My Mind
Georgia adopted Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrel's 1930 classic as its official state song in 1979. Dozens have recorded it but this is the most famous version and sung by a Georgia native too.
More Ray Charles: BBC | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Julie London - Hard Hearted Hannah
Julie London is remembered as fondly for her sultry, sexpot image as her songs. As Wikipedia points out, "the notably suggestive portrait photos used on London's album covers made lasting impressions even on the tone deaf." Her rendition of the Tin Pan Ally standard about the "Vamp of Savannah, GA" captures her appeal to a tee.
More Julie London: MySpace | BBC | Amazon
MP3: Justin Townes Earle - South Georgia Sugar Babe (live)
Steve Earle's lad is fast becoming one of my favourite artists and his live shows are particularly fun. This is from a cracking set in Austin last December that's available in full at the Internet Archive.
More Justin Townes Earle: MySpace | Amazon
MP3: Webb Pierce - Georgia Rag
A fine slice of 1950s honky-tonk twang from the legendary Webb Pierce whose previous appearance in these parts was one of my drinking song posts.
More Webb Pierce: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Uncle Tupelo - Chickamauga (live)
This track's lyrics are more pertinent considering that the version here is from Uncle Tupelo's last ever show on 1 May 1994 in St Louis. Acrimonious slanging matches between Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar typified Uncle Tupelo's break-up so it's perhaps appropriate that the Battle of Chickamauga took place during the Civil War.
More Uncle Tupelo: fansite | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Sam Bush - Bringing in the Georgia Mail
Bluegrass virtuoso Sam Bush was America's National Fiddle Champion at 15 but is even more highly regarded as a mandolin player. This track is from one of the superb Crowd Around the Mic CDs that North Carolina radio station WNCW offers its supporters.
More Sam Bush: official site | Amazon
MP3: Blind Willie McTell - Atlanta Strut
William McTell was born in Thompson, Georgia in 1898. This is from only his third session, recorded in Atlanta in 1929. Like many early blues musicians McTell recorded songs under various names for different "race" labels and released this one as Blind Sammie for Columbia.
More Blind Willie McTell: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
Next time we'll be wearing ridiculous shirts and sipping Mai Tais as we say "Aloha" to Hawaii.
Alabama - Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne, Lynryd Skynyrd
Florida - Vic Chesnutt, Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley
State Songs - links to every post on this musical road trip