Ever South

Indigo Girls at South on Main in Little Rock, AR

Last night Jon and I went to a concert that celebrated Georgia music with the Indigo Girls and Patterson Hood. The music was amazing, and though we bought the tickets mostly to see the Indigo Girls, I can now count myself a belated fan of Patterson Hood and will likely spend today listening to him and his band, the Drive By Truckers. He especially won me over with “Daddy Needs a Drink,” and I really loved a song he played called “Ever South,” that he said he wrote just a few days ago about moving from the South to Oregon. The line “Everywhere we go, they hear the drawl that leaves our mouth, so no matter where we go, we’re ever South” reminded me of how many of my fellow native Southerners don’t think I have much of an accent, but when I visit my husband’s family in Colorado, they all seem to think I do! I also really loved the song “World of Hurt” about the crazy mix of beauty and pain that is life and love, and another song, where he sang “I can dance on my own grave, thank you,” which is exactly how I feel about my near-death experience.

Patterson Hood at South on Main in Little Rock, AR

At one point in the night, we were discussing Southern identity with a friend who’s from California. I said I think Colorado-born Jon has been naturalized as a Southerner at this point, after over a decade in the South and two Arkansas-born daughters. Jon said, “Well, I have a daughter named Etta Jane, what more do I need?” True. Poor guy didn’t want our kid to have a double name, because he thought it sounded too Southern, and then the little peach went and insisted on having one anyway. “NAME ETTA JANE,” she’s been insisting for at least a year now. Just Etta is apparently not enough to cover it.

It was interesting to think about, though, because I don’t think people from other regions obsess quite so much with the idea of regional identity. Are Midwesterners tortured or haunted the way so many Southerners are (or at least those of us who really love Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor)? Do people from other regions have the same experience of wrestling with their regional identity and deciding how much it influences them and what parts of it they will keep and what parts they will reject–not so much a coming out as a coming into a type of identity? I suspect not. We’re a weird sort, ever South.

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4 thoughts on “Ever South

  1. I love the Indigo Girls so now I need to look up Patterson Hood. Thanks for this suggestion. By the way, as a native Northerner and now transplanted Mid-Westerner there are a few things that are definitely associated with those regional identities but now as many as I see ascribed (true or false) to the Southern identity.

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  2. Suggestion from a Midwesterner: Check out Jason Isbell, former DBT from Alabama. His album Southeastern is absolutely stunning.

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  3. Lovely post! There is something special about the South. I am an “extreme northerner”, as I am from Norway, but I spent four years in Georgia so I know a little bit about the South and I agree that it is probably the region of the US with the “most” identity and as the commenter above says, there are a lot of things attributed, falsely or correctly, to the southern identity.

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