This item is only available as the following downloads:
LOST, MEAN AND GRACEFUL HIGHWAYS: A WAY TO THE NEW FAY AND THE DRIVE BY SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA BY MAE BECKMANN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Maribeth Clark Sarasota, Florida April, 2013
ii CONTENTS INTRO DUCTION 1 CHAPTER 1. Tribute: An Introduction to Novelist Larry Brown through Song 10 21 CHAPTER 3. day Southern Mythology The Drive 42 Anthem in Southern Rock Opera CONCLUSION 57 REFEREN CES 59
iii ILLUSTRATIONS Figures 1. Album Cover of Just One More 10 2. Album Cover of Running on Empty 11 3. Scribner paperback edition cover of Fay 26 4. Wes Freed, Album Cover of Southern Rock Ope ra 50
iv LOST, MEAN AND GRACEFUL HIGHWAYS: A WAY TO THE NEW SOUTH FAY AND THE DRIVE SOUTHERN ROCK OPERA Mae Beckmann New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT Since the days of Jim Crow and segregation, the American South has been shifting its identity Th r ough literature and music, an understanding may be constructed as to how some Southerners see this region today. To understand this new view, this thesis focuses on the novel Fay (2000), by Mississippi author Larry Brown and the music album Southern Rock Opera (2001), by the Drive By Truckers. These two works are connected in regard to the motif of the road and its duality as a promise of redemption and tool of entrapment for the working class Southerners who find themselves in it Ideally, t he road offers a path to transformation, escape, hope, and glory for the struggling men and women. It also holds dangerous pitfalls in locations that have been f orgotten by those who now pass remnants of the old South quickly on interstate highways. Despite the obstacles, the New South, haunted by an painful past of bigotry and stubbornness, to shoot down misconc eptions and reach for a better future. Professor Maribeth Clark, Division of Humanities
1 Introduction During the summer of 2006, when I was fifteen years old, my mother and I took a whirlwind road trip from Florida, our destination being Cheyenne, Wyoming. We made stops along the way in recovering from the hurricane New Orleans the thick of Texas where we stayed spent a week in Austin with my dad and the dry heat of Santa Fe, New Mexico We cruised through endless Badlands relieved only by the sight of a train on the horizon and the curving roads of Colorado. After all this, we arrived in Cheyenne for two h ours to eat lunch with my great aunt and uncle at a buffet. All that, yet, the way home from Wyoming remains clearest in my memory when my mother showed me the South as she understood it We passed through Kansas, where I do not recall seeing any people at all, and the lush Ozarks of Arkansas. With an open schedule, we lingered and extended our trip by days. We passed a few nights in northern Alabama and Mississippi, driving past landmark took back roads almost the whole way, and my teenage eyes were opened to the hard beauty that is the South. My mother insisted we stay off the crowded, boring interstates. Back roads were far quieter, well kept secr ets in the Southern landscape. We moved slowly for the pleasure of the drive and I was able to connect with the beauty of the land as well as recognize its bleak aspects I saw bold sunsets through thick branches of Alabama pines, worn down strip malls lac ing small towns, and ancestral farms stretching for miles. I discovered different Souths: the rundown South, the agricultural South, the charming South.
2 My mother influenced my appreciation of this place with cultural detours and stops. We focused on the musical history along the way: the shotgun shack where Elvis spent the first years of his life in Tupelo, Mississippi, which naturally led us to the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis where he recorded his first hits. Unfortunately we could not visit the King when we passed through on another car trip. I stood on the spot in the recording studio where Elvis sang. Bob Dylan had kissed that spot when he visited years earlier. My mother took a pic Alabama, which stands blocks from the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor. The South and its music claimed me on this road trip, and I realized my Southern identity. My parents also encoura ged my cultural immersion in the South with trips to Live at Folsom Prison Eat a Peach L istening to those CDs wen t hand in hand with the travels. I will never forget passing through the Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town In Oxford, Mississippi, my mother and I stopped in Square Books to buy my Father and Son It would be a couple of years before I borrowed the novel and related the rough when we were lost on back roads that turned to dirt and our nerves became tested as dogs of no breed came out from the sides of double wides while a trash fire was burning
3 created, and found his to be one of the clearest Southern voices of recent years. He revealed a South of depth as he lay open its magnificent darkness through people who w ere trul y tied to the land: the working class. Coincidentally, on this same trip, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, we caught a Country Music Television documentary on Florida band Lynyrd Skynyrd, with one band member discussing the process of writing the megahit Powell related how the band had toured and recorded in Alabama, where they discovered unique people and stunning landscapes. 1 as I reclined in a Hot Springs motel with a view of palms and moss draped oaks at the window. These rockers were inspired to write a song about what they found; they wanted to show the rest of the country that the South was no longer about the ugliness of racism, as it was stereotyped then, in the 1 970s, when the song was written. After one line in 2 Wallace was infamous for staunch racism at th this politician and white supremacy Their point was that Wallace did not represent the whole South. Their song showed a resistance to the archaic Southern ideology of Wallace while also celebrating the beau ty of the Old South and the Civil Rights of the New South. This redemption of the South i s the mission of many Southern writers and 1 American Revolutions: Southern Rock directed by Anne Fentress (CMT 2005 ), Television. 2 Second Helping Mp3 Studio One, 1974.
4 d, the leader, songwriter and spokesperson for the Georgia band Drive Although the song launches with a list of what the South is not about: boots, guns, guitars, race, and cotton fields. It explains this dualism when it juxtaposes Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King. Hood points to the change in thinking about the South, a postsouthern 3 way of thinking: It's a little about some rebels but it ain't about the past You think I'm dumb, maybe not too bright You wonder how I sleep at night Proud of the glory, stare down the shame Robert E. Lee Martin Luther King Stay out the way of the Southern thing 4 In songs with lyrics like these, th e Drive By Truckers embrace the South with all of its My discovery of the Truckers around t he same time as my immersion in work, clarified the current tone of the South for me because Brown and the Truckers focus on showing what had been the unshowable: the grit. Rather than ignore marginal, working class characters, Brown and the Truckers write about them with richness, and if being Southern is defined in part by deep roots to this place, these artists and their subjects have the m. In The South and America since World War II, historian James C. Cobb writes, 3 Martyn Bone Postsouthern Sense of Place in Contemporary Fiction (Louisiana State University Press, 2005). Bone created this term to refer to the generations of post industrial Southerners who no longer have to work the land but still feel connected to it. 4 Patterso Southern Rock Opera MP3 Soul Dump, 2001.
5 5 6 In the same chapter, Cobb muses about Brown and other Southern authors who direct their attention t hrough a veil of condescension and contempt, the characters created by the white trash writers seethe with class resentment while clinging tenaciously to a fierce sense of 7 While characters in their nove ls and songs share similar backgrounds, another motif consistent in their works is the road. The road holds significant personal meaning for me in my discovery of the South, and is a symbol for Southern writers and musicians. in opposite directions, like the deeply nested two lane highways through Louisiana bayous and Alabama hills. The road is promise of escape, or deliverance that is often broken. These same roads that seem to offer liberation keep us stuck to the land. Trai ling after a search for salvation comes a past that oftentimes holds violence and hate. Authors and musicians in recent decades have traced this theme in characters haunted by their pasts, which juxtaposes against these contemporary characters history of the Jim Crow era and images of ferocious German Shepherds let In the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, the South healed and renewed itself, a hard earned process because many local gove rnments battled change. This is seen in Praying for Sheetrock which chronicles the 1970s 5 James C. Cobb, The South and America Since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 253. 6 2001). 7 Cobb, The South and America 256.
6 community of Darien, Georgia oliceman shooting an unarmed black man then hauling him to jail. 8 Greene also spotlights Highway 17, which led nave travelers into town to be duped in gambling shacks. This highway played a critical role in as built later it stole the traffic and the of people of any race. The Southern road is a provoca tive topic in countless books, songs, and experiences. The introduction of roads, highways, and interstates tells the story of how the South was bypassed in the modern era. Therefore, how can its residents rise from its confines? Brown and the Drive By Tr uckers focus on fertile highways, not on ruthlessly homogeneous interstates. Nostalgia caresses well worn two lanes instead of interstates and turnpikes that have emptied towns, like those that these musicians and authors call home. Anyone who wants to kno w a small town must veer off the interstate. The motif of the road ties together Brown and the Drive By Truckers as they spend their lives crafting the words about what it means to be Southern in the twenty first century. The aesthetic of the postsouthern and the theme of deliverance are embedded in this identity, which can be witnessed beyond fiction and music; it can be witnessed in the working class roots of this author and these musicians. They create characters that, literally, seek escape along these old roads, but often find themselves more deeply entrenched in where they started. I fine line, I think, you have to walk between hard hardness and sentimentality. You 8 Melissa Fay Greene, Praying For Sheetrock (Addison Wesley, 1991), 121.
7 go off and be in either one of the ditches. You have to go down the middle of the road without leaning [ ] You got to just lay it out straight the way it is and let the reader form 9 Brown fosters the emergence of desperate, transparent human nature to conjure the spirit of the South. Examining the fiction of Brown, the same inspirations and raw emotions that translate into Southern rock emerge. To bridge these two mediums, a look at the musical tribute for Brown, including a song by the author, offers evidence of how they love the hard and the grit ty The songs discussed here are those that use images of the road as a greater metaphor, one that collides with love, desperation, the pas t, and the future. The prose to create musical homages. These Southern musicians share the same landscapes and mindsets that Brown celebrated in his writing. heroine discovers that gritty South as she emerges from the deep woods of Mississippi. The road ties people to the land. It is often associated with those of lower socio economic levels because in the rural South, many have to drive long distances to anywhere about w hat he knows best. His own story includes two years in the Marines, working as a firefighter in Oxford, M ississippi and moving around from such jobs as brick laying, surveying, and carpet cleaning, laboring seven days a week to support his wife and three c hildren. 10 Hard labor rewarded him with material for his stories. An obvious connection exists between his experience as a firefighter, untangling car accidents on the highway, 9 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed by Gary Hawkins ( Center for Documentary S tudies at Duke University, 2008), DVD. 10 Jean W. Cash, (University Press of Mississippi, 2011).
8 and the tragedies of the auto collisions he writes about in Fay While a firefighter he wrote, firefighter cannot be a 11 Brown was a keen observer of life, with a toughened soul from his many experiences, and this toughness influences his prose. Likewise, the Drive By Truckers come from hardworking families in small towns. They, like Brown, paint the South with their tobacco worn voices and with educations that require only having lived among these bypassed people. In an interview with Mississippi journalist Gary Pettus, Brown discussed the culture he knew so well. P ettus ask s respond s beginning myself, y 12 13 This society is what the Drive 14 the working class living where 15 occur more than in other parts of America. Economic hardships forge hardened lives. My aim is to examine the road in these sources and address its significance. A my thesis primarily addresses working class whites, the people m y sources capture. They do not talk a bout race, and because of this, their class pride r e v o l v e s a r o u n d whiteness. 11 Oxford American March 1992. 12 Brown, Larry. Conversations with Larry Brown Ed. Jay Watson ( University of Mississippi, 2007 ), 6. 13 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed by Gary Hawkins (2008), DVD. 14 The Drive By Truckers The Dirty South MP3, New West. 15 http://thehumanmarvels.com/66/grady stiles jr the murderous lobster man/ectrodactyly.
9 Although the South struggled through the twentieth century, a pride remains that is no longer emblematic of racism. They do not look down upon mino rity races, but they also do not include them in most of their works. 16 character Fay, not flying down I 95, but rather stumbling along Highway 72 through northern Alabama which the Truckers sing about It carries a heavy, painful past yet seeks redemption and insight that allows children of the New South (coming out of Jim Crow) like the Truckers and myself, to find pride in this place, our deeply scarred and beautiful ancestral home. 16 Dirty Work includes a main character who is black.
10 Chapter 1 Tribute: An Introduction to Novelist Larry Brown through Song An image of Larry Brown graces the cover of the musical tribute album to him, Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown, a Great American Author released by Bloodshot Records in 2007, thr ee years after his death. Larry Brown plays the guitar author, his music and the road. Music and the road connect in unexpected ways in the work of Larry Brown, always con The album cover photo (Figure 1) is a portrait of this revered author literally creating music on the road. With the recordings and cover photo other artists pay homage to the infl uence of his work with their music, and the album boasts a recording of Brown playing and singing at the end. Figure 1. Album cover of Just One More 17 17 Various A rtists, Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown Mp3, Bloodshot Records, 2007.
11 Brown Fay With it s variety of Southern influenced genres of rock, folk, and blues and an opener about a man and his blue car, Just One More begs to be heard on the road. As a Running on Empty (Figure 2) with album art that depicts a drum set on a desert highway and with almost every song describing the life of the touring musician. The road is important, nevertheless, as it is to many contemporary rock musicians. Musicians generally know the road well because their touring schedules often allow deep i mmersion and exploration. Often times, the best way for musicians to make money is through touring. Road music has become a genre since it is a prominent theme in American musical styles, parti cularly in country music. Figure 2. Album cover of Running on Empty 18 Historian Bill C. Monroe explores how Southern music and class interact in his book He explains how the crucial interaction of music and class helps define the South : 18 Jackson Browne, Running on Empty, Mp3, Asylum, 1977.
12 of slavery and the belief in white supremacy, and the defeat suffered in the Civil War. A broad cluster of t raits, including memories and bloodlines, once linked the people of Virginia and the eastern seaboard to the people of East Texas. These common traits bound southerners in many ways, while their diversity lent a rich and special flavor to their musical cul ture. 19 During the 1970s in Los Angeles, country collided with rock in the sounds of Jackson Browne, The Eagles, and Warren Zevon. Gram Parsons, anointed Father of Sou thern Rock, moved from Georgia and Florida, with roots in California, in the 1960s, with his slow Southern accent and a song writing style that paid homage to iconic musical influences such as George Jones and Elvis Presley. Today is the time of a New Sout h, one that recognizes hardship born of more recent economic downturns and resists defeat, racism, and blood worship. The marriage of rock and country in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s exemplifies the progression of Southern culture as it infused old school count ry music musically into its postsouthern age. As in Southern literature, an appreciation of landscape infuses Southern music. Wanders all around everywhere/ Trembles and it shakes till every tree is loose/ It rolls the 20 Parsons evocative imagery sets a romantic tone as he In was nearly forgotten by everyone [ ] 19 Bill C. Malone, (University of Illinois Press, 2002), viii. 20 GP Mp3, Reprise, 1973.
13 21 By using land to paint his lover and his love, Parsons joins a sense of ru ralism that isolates his love from the hustle of a crowded city. The allure of his lover is mirrored in the allure of the land. Ironically, Larry Brown was a man who stayed p ut in northern Mississippi. Yet his characters wandered, and their wandering s perh aps reflect his wish to do the same. Musicians such as Texans Alejandro Escovedo and Robert Earl Keen allowed previously unreleased songs to be used on the tribute album They wrote or found songs that adhere s in their own words. These artists create Brown inspired poetry to the tune of the traditional Southern. Most of the recording artists on this album are white Southern men of working class origins; a common cultural understanding resonates through the so ngs. The release talent to do music for a living. He always played his guitar every nigh t. If he had to skip 22 Both writing and music offered him creative release from the struggles of menial day jobs. ry in style in order to convey how grace and grit exist in Southern music as well as Southern literature. The tribute album is a convergence of musicians writing about the road, which d the damned, 21 GP Mp3, Reprise, 1973. 22 Just One More, A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown 19 Songs Celebrating a Great American Writer on May22, 2007 Artists Include Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen, T Release Statement, Jan. 29, 2007.
14 whether people or places. The songs that best create the image of the road on the album o the road and the South is clear. The first song offers a calm tone and creates the setting of the long mountain road. class survival as ov er: passion and grief go hand in hand. This is : I'm driving my blue car baby Down from the mountain so high I'm driving my blue car baby Coming down to say goodbye The sunrise is a miracle But it can't hold a candle to you Do you remember them rides in my blue car Back when it was brand new Well it's a good old car But the clutch is a little loose And the brakes are screaming A song called what's the use But it's good for one more trip One more trip to you The lightning's meant to strike The tall pine trees And the birds are meant to cry And wheel in the breeze But some things baby I guess they just ain't meant to be When I get back up on the mountain I'll close my door against the wind I'll park my old blue car I may fall down the mountain But I will never fall in love again 23 23 Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown Mp3, Bloodshot Records, 2007, http://www.thescottmiller.com/pdfpress/bloodshot_0207.pdf.
15 old car/ But the clutch is a little lo ose/ And the brakes are screaming/ A song called vehicle, but he has to let both of them go. He notes the beauty of the land that wraps The act of driving, as in this song, tends to coincide with important decisions or Fay when Amy, half of the kind but wounded couple that takes in Fay at the beginning of the novel, dies on one of those pine shaded highways. As she cruises and sips vodka (drinking and driving is a common action for his characters), Amy tries to sort out her sorrows for her dead daughter, who died in a car accident, and her passionless marriage. Brown details ts as she meanders through the hills in her convertible. He uses this device to reveal her sense of freedom and happiness infused by strong beverage in a small flask and the stronger nicotine of a longed for cigarette. Driving allows Amy an escape, to be a lone to smoke and drink. This scene has a deep element of suspense, yet it comes as no surprise when Amy wrecks and dies instantly. The scene ends: She took another hit of the vodka and put it away and sped up a little. It was time to get back. Hurrying now, she went weaving into the last curve before the intersection and barely squeezed by the first hurtling log truck and was trying to
16 recover when the second one came barreling through so fast that she only had time for one last thought inside the screa ming screech of air brakes: Fay 24 The Rough South of Larry Brown 25 Larry Brow n sees driving as a sort of spiritual ritual, which Greg Brown offering escape, but also deliverance. For Larry of flight rivaled only by drinking and sex. Those who live in the rural countryside do not have access to transportation like buses and subways, and the distance is often too long to walk, so driving is the only option for moving long distances. Driving also connects with the b eauty of the surrounding landscape. It is a vehicle for relaxation and pleasantly watching the world go by as Amy demonstrates for the reader while taking in the lush we ll tended pastures. Here and there horses stood head to tail and snapped their tails at 26 lot of space exists. That Amy is able to appreciate her surroundings and, at the same time, acknowledge her reality offers a sort of deliverance right before her death. In his song, Greg Brown connects driving with intense love that he must release in ord er to allow for more freedom. 24 Larry Brown, Fay (New York: Scribner, 2000), 107. 25 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed by Gary Hawkins (2008), DVD. 26 Brown, Fay ,106.
17 The fourth track on Just One More Fay even closer to music at the beginning of the novel. In this section, she walks alone and is not connected to a car or a formal road. She stands apart from other chara cters in road songs, as Sun comes up in the morning See that sunrise forming All the pretty colors Shining down on the water But I put in my dollar Res t and a little dinner Walking down the highway Thirsty for some water Men keep looking my way But I put in my dollar Mister, what you show me Always tr ied to save us But I put in my dollar Watching all the women Making sense of living All their little babies ave them But I put in my dollar Answers for the taking Sun comes up in the morning See that sunrise forming All the pretty colors Shining down on the water
18 But I put in my dollar I do But my purse is on my shoulder But my purse is on my shoulder 27 k accents the tenderness of Fay and a banjo accompanying h er add to the rustic texture of the setting. This track appears to be the most stripped But my purse is on my shoulder reassurance. The purse symbolizes femininity with a touch of g race for Fay. She holds it over her shoulder in a more ladylike fashion in an attempt to fit into a society that she barely knows, and with her purse on, she is ready to go. It is also her bedrock that holds t wo dollars and nothing more. The voice of Her her Mississippi accent resonates. A banjo evokes the environment of the Mississippi mountains. The first lines of Fay out of the hills that were growing black with night, and in the dusty road her feet ground 28 When Fay starts out, she has no car, not even shoes. Ye t instead of drivi ng down the mountain as Greg Brown does, she leaves her past behind by walking unpaved roads until she encounters those who have the cars, the men from migrant farm work and an abusive father. 27 Just One More: A Mu sical Tribute to Larry Brown Mp3, Bloodshot Records, 2007. 28 Brown, Fay, 9.
19 W hy Herring chose this part of the book to sing about can only be guessed. Fay is for the most part still untouched in the beginning. Though she has struggled under the abuse of her drunkard father all her young life, she is nave about the world. The fina l song on the album is performed by the muse himself, Brown. His gravelly, cigarette acoustic guitar in simple c hords. His speaking voice comes across thick with a Mississippi drawl. The same can be said for his singing voice; it is even difficult to vulgar words and the roughness of the song sound honest. Fay uses vulgarity sometimes too. n performance on the album permits the deepest insight into the man who deserves these tribute songs. 29 Through the smoky haze of bars and across the resonant wooden floors of shotgun shacks, Just One More offers sounds worthy of Larry Brown, master of the Southern story. The musicians honor Brown stories connect with those who appreciate the realities and edginess of the Southern landscape. Musicians are particularly keen to recreate the harder tone, and th is album delivers that edge. The road is a journey of purpose, and song and literature tend to be the mediums to convey this. While the musicians, or even Brown, may have lived in rural 29 Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown Mp3, Bloodshot Records, 2007.
20 areas for any number of reasons, they could always look to the road as a beacon of deliverance. Just One More does the important cultural task of bringing together the two different mediums of literature and song. In doing so, the album shows how music and story are able to cross over one another through tone, setting, and c haracters. While the compilation pays homage to Larry Brown, it also represents the New South by showing how the postsouthern intersects in song and fiction
21 Chapter 2 Fay In Fay a definition for the contemporary South rises from the road. As author Larry Brown weaves the journey of his heroine Fay, the reader looks through her lens to experience the South, particularly the working class and low life South. The experiences of thi s beautiful, young, uneducated, impoverished woman are postsouthern: t he crises that arise force her through postsouthern environments, such as fishing holes, beach bars, dirt roads, trailer parks, strip joints, the cabs and beds of pick up trucks and El C aminos with the windows hand day South. Fay her gender also offe rs opportunities. The biggest difference for Fay is her use of her sexuality to assert her independence, but her sexuality can also incite violence. Fay struggles to ass ert herself because she must go against assumptions about females. She walks the thin h tone 30 song. Her story connects to country tunes written and sung by Sout hern women in the washboard everyday/ Why, I seen her fingers bleed, to complain, the re was no need/ 30 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed b y Gary Hawkins (2008), DVD.
22 31 Lynn crystallizes the hurdles of growing up in a holler where mining and moon shining upbringing afforded her a strong spirit that paved the way for her independence from men in later years, apparent in her songs (1967). This independence freed her from the traditional Southern mindset as Giving all your love to j ust one man But if you love him And if you love him Oh, be proud of him 32 Around t he same time that Lynn released her song, Jeannie C. Reilly sang dresses way too high, r 33 Like Fay, Mrs. Johnson attracts the attention of many men, and she bow down to their male c ounterparts. 31 Mp3, Decca, 1970. 32 Stand By Your Man Mp3, Epic, 1968. 33 Harper Valley PTA Mp3, Plantation, 1968.
23 The attention from others spotlights Fay grasping for freedom. Their stares cast attention may give Fay a feeling of power, which is often fleeting because the way these men envision her conflicts with her self image and aspirations. In his depiction of Fay, Brown combines tough upbringing, beauty, and sexuality, as well as the strength to resent and resist men in order to create a plausible sense of independe nce for Fay. Brown has Fay assert herself through her traveling. Her journey not only allows exploration of place, but fosters her growth and transformation, a development of character usually reserved for men. In different periods of the South, Hank Willi ams and Townes Van Zandt wrote songs about the male as a wandering soul. Then I hurry straight home and pack I love you baby, but you gotta understand When the Lord made me 34 Days full of rain I get so tired Of the same o ld blues Same old song 35 34 40 Greatest Hits Mp3, Mercury, 1978. 35 Mp3, Tomato, 1978.
24 image of a female wandering t hrough the postsouth is set in action by miserable circumstance search for independence also motivates her actions. She resists any shackles that would tether her. The theme that becomes prominent is being on the road, and, more importantly, Fay that Fay traverses help the reader better understand nuances of the South, and her struggles with independence include claiming an identity at the same time that the New South she travel s grapples with its identity. The South itself is not a complacent place because it lives its history. The Road (that of apocalypse and ruin), parallels can be drawn be tween The Road and Fay While McCarthy and Brown share similar post modern Southern Gothic tones, 36 e constant hardship and little grace in a post apocalyptic world, yet they maintain the goal of reaching the coast. The farther the father and son travel down the road, the more obvious it becomes that they have no idea what they will do when they reach th e ocean. 37 Larry Brown begins Fay on the road as the main character ventures out of the 36 http://www.neabigread.org/books/lonelyhunter/teachers/HeartIsALonelyHunterHandout2.pdf. 37 Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).
25 full dark coming quickly 38 Fay is a young woman fleeing a painful life, and from the opening pages, Brown sets up the road as a motif of escape and hope for her. The vistas to come. She walks barefoot on an old, dirt road, much like the bare bones existence she comes from. Because of lack of means, they wande r with no real home until Fay t akes off on her own, escaping dysfunction Brown first introduced them in his novel Joe which was written almost a decade before Fay. Joe wants to escape their crazed father and lifestyle. While Fay looks back on the family, Joe puts the reader in the scene of how tortured the children felt. Violence between Fay and her father occurs often; in one early moment she shows defiance: scream. She just closed her eyes and tried to force his hands away from her throat, the two of them stumbling against the logs. [Gary] tried to get between them, and the girl and the woman joined in, all of them tugging at the hands clenched so tightly on her. She gagged and coughed and her face started turning purple until right 39 Fay is a fighter; her tough spirit enables her to leav e her father. Driving her is a tenacious intuition derived from her keen sense of obse rvation and pained upbringing. Her strong, hardened will coexists with her naivety. An untouched quality about Fay comes from her minimal exposure to the real world. She appears almost like Eve emerging from Eden, nothing in her emotionally painful background. Behind her lies a world of hurt that can 38 Brown, Fay 9 39 Larry Brow n, Joe (Chapel Hill: Warner, 1991), 36
26 only color her future. Family dysfun ction is a strong theme that persists through the canon of Southern literature. Famously, William Faulkner o ften created families that deal with alcoholism, jealousy, and incest. As Brown consciously places Fay on the road at the start of her story, so do es the cover of the paper back edition of the book (Figure 3 ). Here, Fay appears as a blonde woman with her long strapped purse over her shoulder, looking down at the tree lined road. The point of view comes from within a car, with the door frame visible. T his image places Fay in a limbo between her solitary life on the road and those who want her and who meet her by giving her rides. The road allows her to move while still maintaining a Southern identity. Figure 3 Paperback cover for Fay 40 As Fay sets out and the day grows darker, the details of her surroundings offer stood behind her, thinking things over, but 41 40 Brown, Fay Scribner paperback edition 41 Brown, Fay 9
27 The hills that grow smaller loom, but the road is her guide. The environment gazes at her as the men in the novel do, but instead of taking in her beauty, the landscape seems to ress from a quiet pasture like cows made of stone. She 42 This moment shares with the reader gazes back at her hold as much weight as her own. Her fear of the cows underscores her own fear of what is down the road. This trip on the road leads to numerous transformative moments. Fay walks between many worlds. For example, she is seventeen so she balances between childhood and womanhood. Her transformative moments occur when she is thr own into new worlds from what she already knows. The nature of the road is that it runs between the unknown keeps moving for the hope of what lies in the future. Everyo ne who m Fay encounters appear s trapped by loveless marriages and little money In some ways Fay is like a stray dog, but she can keep moving. In some ways the people she meets are stray dogs, too. Brown suggests this comparison when Fay encounters a dog i n a trap. The canine at once elicits sympathy and fear from her: pressed to draw each breath [ ] The foot that was caught in the rusty trap was nearly severed and the dog tried to hold it aloft as it came 43 It is unclear if the dog will harm Fay, but most importantly because it is in pain and sadness it may even come to her. 42 Brown, Fay 10 43 Brown, Fay 11
28 It is injured, approaches her for care, but it may bite. The trap shackles the dog. A shack le is not something Fay wants. She has empathy, but she protects herself. Overcoming her fear, a moment of grace comes when Fay escapes the animal and goes inside a comforting, simple church. She takes in all of the niceties such as clean carpeted hallwa ys, shiny pine benches and white tablecloths. She mutters to herself, and helps herself to the food in the fridge. 44 She has found temporary safety as well as nourishment. The most important moment in this scene occurs whe n she is exiting and leaves one of her two dollar bills in a dish as a way of thanks. She does so after she feels a pinch in. Jesus seemed to gaze down up on 45 Jesus is shackled, too. In an effort to rid herself of the guilt that would constrain her, she frees herself with a donation. Here, Brown comments on the sense of engrained religious respect that Fay holds, as many people do. Religion is not prominent fac perhaps because he was not a religious man, but he uses it to convey the way that faith wor m s itself into the lives of Southerners. The general acceptance of religion has customarily run strong in the South, particularly in the Bible B elt, where Fay takes place. In a sense, Brown replaces faith with travel. The road is a savior for Fay. Yet Brown may be less interested in religion because its hold on the people has grown weaker over the years. A professor at the University of Mississip 44 Brown, Fay 12. 45 Brown, Fay 13.
29 Van Zant [lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd] is that Hank woke up on Sunday and felt 46 This quotation illustrates how differently reli gion affected the consciousnesses of a Southerner in the 1950s, when Hank Williams was making music, and the 1970s, when Lynyrd Skynyrd was topping the charts. The South has changed and the postsouthern Bible Belt may not be so religious anymore. For Brown church is a place where you steal a sandwich. Keeping in line with this sense of duality as Fay tends to bounce between moments of grace and danger or sorrow, the next stop violently throws her into a world of sin, ironically after her church visit. Fay gets a lift from 47 to join them. The bed of the truck offers transportation, but it is not the safest place to ride. As the truck speeds into the story, her thoughts are curiosities about other young edged version and the ride delivers a town setting and new perspective: The truck turned and went down a long hill past shopping centers and video stores and fast food joints. At another red light a cop in a cruiser never took his eyes off them, but the blond boy had already told her to hold her beer down while they were in town. The cop watched them until they pulled away and she was afraid he would pull i 48 The ride leads to a trailer where the drinking continues. The trailer is on wheels, and so literally claims no roots. It commonly re presents the blue collar, bottom rung 46 David Tegedar (American History professor) in discussion about Ole Miss Southern St udies Program, October 2012 Mr. Tegedar saw Ownby speak at a conference. 47 Brown, Fay 16 48 Brown, Fay 18
30 lifestyle because of its affordability and is not welcome in a typical neighborhood but is dropped either in a trailer park or the woods. At the trailer Fay, for the first time, gets drunk and smokes marijuana. To add to the tawdry standards and pathetic group, a large woman, Linda, and her baby live with 49 This moment harkens back to her protection of h er younger siblings from her father. After Fay averts a sexual encounter with the blond boy from the truck bed, she sitting shivering on the commode lid wrapped in a rough towel and all her undergarments hung on a shower rod 50 The ing sex between Linda, swinging from her hand, down the rutted drive toward mor e night while the voices of the 51 Fay witnessing the sexual act places her in a seedy world, and accounts for a transformative moment in which she runs back to the r oad. The next chapter finds Fay in yet another hard place; she wanders the highway, 49 Brown, Fay 26 50 Brown, Fay 33 51 Brown, Fay 36
31 52 The sun beats heavily down on her and buzzards eye her. Here th e buzzard gaze symbolizes death, but Fay sneers at them. Perhaps she feels anxious for the company or aid of others after her revelatory encounter in the trailer. However, when safety comes in the form of Sam, the highway patrolman, Fay hesitates. He pul ls up next indicate she does not want an arrest to interfere with her movement. She does not look for help; she only focuses on her goal, which she tells Sam is Biloxi. 53 A s in The Road the coast symbolizes safety and freedom ; the road literally ends there. It is significant that the only when Sam comes into her life. sat down and was enveloped in a waft of cold air 54 Instead of taking her into the station he brings her to his home where he and h is wife, Amy, become her pseudo parents. Fay believes this safe place this nuclear family of sorts, allow s her a sense of con tentment, which she has yet to experience. Sam and Amy live on the lake, which Fay grows to see as a sort of paradise where 55 a safe haven. Her vulnerabilities dissipate because she no longer has to be on the move walking or catching rides. Between sipping beer and smoking cigarettes on the deck, Amy shops with Fay and Sam takes her on adventures. The mid dle aged couple introduces Fay into the middle class world, but they are all still removed from the world in their cabin. She is happy: 52 Brown, Fay 38 53 Brown, Fay 41 54 Brown, Fay 42 55 Brown, Fay 86
32 compare to that feeling of freedom when the blunt nose of the rig lifted and the spray started flying from the hull and the slap slap slap of the waves rolled under quicker and quicker until there was only the smooth cutting of the boat through the water, and the wind in her hair and the warm sun on her skin. 56 and house are li ke islands of protection. This bubble of a paradise is pierced when Amy dies in a car accident, an d Fay transitions from daughter figure to wife figure for Sam. She replaces Amy. As she had an auto crash, she still thought about Amy all the time and the guilt never did leave her. It was something she could feel on her as solid as skin. But all she did was t 57 Sam gazes lovingly at Fay. She enjoys being able to love Sam, but that ominous guilt throws her off balance and creates yet another conflict in her life. co ndition emphasizes her naivety and young age, which strips her of any comfort she had before: After he left she cried for a whi le and then she dried her tears [ ] know anything about being pregnant or what you were supposed to do or if you were supposed to go to the doctor right away or stay in bed or what. She guessed your hair or how to please your man. She thought she already knew how to please her man. Just keep him fu cked down [ ] But she was all alone now, just like she 58 56 Brown, Fay 87 57 Brown, Fay 121 58 Brown, Fay 130
33 Her pregnancy gives Fay even more doubts about her relationship with Sam; her lack of knowledge about motherhood isolates her. Being with child takes on grittier q ualities because of the age difference between Fay and Sam; in fact, Fay is a minor of seventeen. but also threatens her comfort and changes the way people will see her. She will not be able to hide her inappropriate relationship with Sam as her belly swells. It is a problem for them both. ent she still had with Sam, and forces her move towards greater independence once more. On a stormy mistress, Alesandra, shows up to kill Fay out of anger and jealousy. Even before Sam and Fay embark on a sexual relationship, Alesandra ha s attempted to kill Fay during a boat outing. 59 In this exchange between the women and Sam, Fay shows her 60 episode of pushing back parallels how the South must dispel its own misunderstood essence by outsiders. Like the South, Fay is an ever changing woman striving for independence and respect, while suffering from recent changes. The fiery tensions between the women are reflected in the rainy weather. When Fay kills Alesandra in self defense, leaves her body in the mid dle of the lake on her boat, 59 Brown, Fay 90 3 60 Brown, Fay 92
34 rain was still beating down on her, but the light was closer and the sky was as black as it had been before with the deep est part of night over her head [ ] She kicked her feet and 61 Twisting the definition of hope, Brown uses the light in the distance as a goal to get home, but it is a false safety, for Fay decides she can no longer stay with Sam. her arrival in Biloxi. She has finally made it to the ocean. She again leaves protection for vulnerability. The chapter opens with movement similar t truck rocked and the transmission made a grinding sound and then the air brakes went off with a loud hiss and the truck was moving away, rolling slowly at first, then picking up speed as it swung back into the road. She stood looking after it, and then she started 62 Replacing the hills that she has looked back to in the beginning, she watches the truck that has taken her from Sam. She shows her strength once again by moving quickly from her meditat ion into unfamiliar territory. Fay is a story of more than one journey for the flawed heroine, and when she arrives in Biloxi, it represents another new start for her. Soon her fresh hope is tested. Biloxi is a place of seediness and confusion. She encoun ters an older airplane pilot who rapes her. She also meets a friendly stripper, 61 Brown, Fay 153 62 Brown, Fay 157
35 R violent and desperate experiences there connect sex with trouble. Men react to her although it saves her w hen she meets the strip club bouncer, Aaron, it also makes her vulnerable. To explore this strength and vulnerability further, the relationship between Fay and Aaron serve s as an example. In a drunken stupor, Fay finds Aaron. His physical presence and gaze seem to promise safety as he stands tall and strong. Because of luck wealthy town outside of Biloxi. The home delivers a false sense of safety, much as Aaron does. T heir relationship quickly becomes intimate, suggested through their silence together: street or gliding up the hill under the street lamps and his silence made her nervous That was okay. She could be that way too sometimes. There had been lots of other in their quiet. 63 Brown co nveys a sense of nervous calm as she rides with Aaron. Though she has protection that draws out her vulnerability the longer she is with him. The drive and 64 Even though her heart stays with Sam, she embarks on a relationship with Aaron. While Fay needs his protect 63 Brown, Fay 237 64 Brown, Fay 239
36 finds porn videos that Aaron filmed with some of the strippers. His aggression towards her increases. In a n effort to rekindle desire between them, Aaron takes Fay on a trip maybe to reenact their initial car ride when they found a seemingly deep connection. The trip begins on a rough note that sets the pace for the rest of their time air on low and he was drinking beer and smoking almost 65 Soon the destination becomes the spot up north, in the hills of Mississippi, where she left her 66 In an effort to find her family 67 Their search continues in the following chapters, but Aaron grows tired of Fay. He even calls her fam 68 identity no longer exists there. As Aaron displays more alarming signs of his dangerous nature, which include a drug deal and always carrying a gun, Fay considers running back to Sam: She had deci ded that tonight she would leave, would lie awake until he slept or went somewhere or did something, and she would pack her suitcase and leave walkin g again, try to head back north [ ] for him to come in. 69 However, the idea of Fay running back to the comfort of Sam becomes a more distant possibility as she is unable to find her family, and Aaron grows to be a stronger force 65 Brown, Fay 351 66 Brown, Fay 355 67 Brown, Fay 355 68 Brown, Fay 381 69 Brown, Fay 391
37 who can physica lly strike down her combative nature. She fears him. She wants her identity to be connected with the comforts of Sam, not Aaron, who represents the seedy world of sex and drugs. As Fay hopes to return to Sam, he draws closer to her when he remembers her w ords when he first picked her up in his cruiser. 70 In a shift to 71 im like it was greased He stopped once in n orth Mississippi [ ] Then he shot through 72 In desperation, Sam prays ironically in a ou 73 This is grace intermingling with the rough. re is so much material in there [ ] say that he had e k into this out. The environment of a strip club falls into this category as well, and even heightens the decay because sexuality is the obvious commodity. 74 S 70 Brown, Fay 387 71 Brown, Fay 389 72 Brown, Fay 466 7 73 Brown, Fay 425 74 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed by Gary Hawkins (2008), DVD.
38 75 presence of Sam and want s to be completely removed from Aaron, which leads to a She started fighting him when he pushed her through the door hard enough to send her against the wall and when he caught her with his hands he ripped her blouse and she got her hands up toward his face and raked a red groove down one of his cheeks but he slapped her into a cor ner next to a door in the hall [ ] And there the gun lay, where it had fallen from the back o f his pants, and he was still hurting, and she turned on her side and sent her hand out for it and once she had it she swung herself back under his belly and holding it in both her little hands and thinking about her gone baby she went boom boom boom in th e big hollow house. 76 This series of events execution by Aaron who lies dying, but Sam is able to shoot Aaron in the face, finishing him off, ending in the Southern Gothic tradition. The western li ke shoot than a happy conclusion. 77 destination, an infamously seedy area, again reflects the roughness that defines Fay now even more. The reader is lead to assume that she works as a stripper. Her drinking and the Her road still ends at the coast with no past behind her. Finally here, she is free, but also haunt ed. 75 The Rough South of Larry Brown directed by Gary Hawkins (2008), DVD. 76 Brown, Fay 486 77
39 The broad lines of Fay is the Drive woman much like Fay who dreams of a better fate but only finds disappointment and tragedy. The woman tries to better her situation but ends up finding more problems, and her past sticks with her along the way: She was fresh out of college The first one in her family to go and California seemed like heaven, Pulaski, Tennessee was her home She wo rked on losing her southern accent and turned her back on her Baptist ways She bought some clothes that barely covered her fair skinned body, Went to Nashville and caught a plane The clouds rushed beneath her as the LA smog filled the air She smiled when t he airlock opened and the Pacific breeze blew through her hair She thought about the boys from Alabama Who came into town every Friday night and drank beer out of big glass quart bottles and left their trail of blood and tears behind She thought the men fr om California would be different She'd grown up watching them on her TV But the men she came to know in California Left her longing for Pulaski, Tennessee Good ideas always start with a full glass and just breathing here can make a girl's nose bleed Dreams here live and die just like a stray dog on a dirt road somewhere in Tennessee The storefronts all filled up with eyeballs As the policemen clear out the street For a line of cars with their headlights burning Driving slow through Pulaski, Tennessee 78 The live and die just like a stray dog on a dirt The image of stories but also clearly shows the fra Their expectations 78 Go Go Boots Mp3, ATO, 2011.
40 travel a d angerous path just as they do. drinks a lot) distract s them from their worries and dissatisfaction, and also throw s them into dangerous and questionable situations often resulting in violence at the hands of men. One of sadder moments comes when Fay, waiting in a strip joint for Aaron drinks wner. She is nervous around this smarmy man and the alcohol makes her more comfortable. Cooley and Brown recognize the predator y qualities that men reveal when a lovely woman crosses their pat h; through their songs and stories they observe this cruel nature that assaults the grace of women. The After they have suffered they must keep moving. While Fay ends up in a strip club in New Orleans though storefronts all filled with eyeballs/ As the policemen clear out the street/ For a line of cars with their headlights burning/ Driving slo ley creates openness for interpretation at the conclusion of his song, as Brown does with Fay By comparing these stories it seem s that the fates of these hard living women are much like either they die young and violently or wander in des peration. Cooley crosses gender boundaries by using a female with a strong wanderlust. Likewise, Brown uses Fay as a parallel to the poor, shackled men who desire freedom in songs by Townes Van Zant and Hank Williams. Brown lays out all the makings of a country song for the twenty first century with a woman who has a traditionally male, Ultimately, Fay still has a keep going way
41 but she survives Loretta Lynn and Jeannie C. Reilly would be proud.
42 Chapter 3 day Southern Mythology The Drive Southern Rock Opera The Drive (2001) focuses on the road as a savior. Their creative work represents another piece of the puzzle, another kind of art istic expression in exploring the twenty first century South. Looking at their songs celebrating the South i Fay, ures of their settings and characters. 79 because they, like Brown, i mmortalize people dee stories, revealing how real, tragic, fascinating, hopeful, and doomed they are. They cannot 80 by name calling, as Fay shows when she 81 It is also significant to note that Alesandra is the richest character in the novel. Cobb says of the challenge of endurance for this class of p fear are virtual constants in an often brutal and desperate existence in which survival is a 79 Cobb, The South and America 256. 80 Cobb, The South and America 253. 81 Brown, Fay, 92.
43 day to day rather than a long 82 This suffering for survival burdens the characters in their small towns envoiced by Brown and th e Truckers. Southern Rock Opera is about young men finding their way. The Truckers look to Lynyrd Skynrd and see similarities in their upbringing and views of the South. The Truckers cons ider 83 a resistant view of themselves because they fight against norms of the Southern musical style while emulating past artists who created that distinctive style, considering Lynyrd Skynyrd as their model. Since the Truck ers started recording, they have been attempting to establish a new view of the South, particularly on Southern Rock Opera They push past Skynyrd who still use Confederate flags in marketing schemes. 84 The Truckers do not connect themselves with these old symbols of heavy implications. The band takes its listeners on a journey; the songs that address being on the road deliver the most insight about what it is like growing up in a rural community, detached from cultural centers and wanting to escape. Althoug h they can move on, they remember their origins. Life on the road as musicians is the story that the Truckers tell on the album. The image of the road in Southern creative outputs is not a new one. The motif of the road intersects in Southern works of fiction and music for as long as Southern fiction has been written For example, Fay begins Light in 82 Cobb, The South and America 256. 83 Robert F. Galgano Westfield Patch last modified March 15, 2013, http://westfield.patch.com/blog_posts/all over the place drive by truckers are almost always on the road. ays been similar to what my definition of a punk band was when I was growing up, loving The Clash The Replacements and Hsker D 84 Huffington Post lost modified September 24, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/lynyrd skynyrd confederate flag_n_1909135.html.
44 August with a young female wandering the rural South with barely two dollars in her pocket 85 but she is liberated from her turbulent family that traded her baby brother for a car. Fay pushes the idea that the road leads to liberation. The road as it is articulated in the songs on Southern Rock Opera mostly explore ecstasy and fear, hate and love. They reject certain regressiv e aspects of the culture, such as bigotry and depressive lifestyles. A sense of being tied to the region still rings true; if that means moving away from a place, they look to another part of the South. Fay left northern Mississippi for the coast in Biloxi northern Alabama but migrated to Athens, Georgia; Lynyrd Skynyrd was founded in Jacksonville, Florida, but they still felt close to Alabama, which they sing about in The Truckers show resistan ce in the confines of their small hometowns and the unmovable, antiquated mindsets of generations before them that could not absorb newer music genres like electric guitar driven rock or post Civil Rights inclusiveness. In this way they contribute to the c onstruction of a new postsouthern South. Band leader, singer, song writer, and guitarist Patterson Hood of the Truckers may be the leadership behind this reforming impulse. He was born in the mid 1960s 86 and came of age in the wake of the Civil Rights Movem ent. His teen years were spent 85 William Faulkner, Light in August (Smith & Haas, 1932). 86 O xford American last modified October 9, 2012, http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2012/oct/09/essay patterson hood/. Oxford American article on Hood in 2012 states he was forty eight.
45 worshiping the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd and other Southern rock musicians. In a song dedicated to these bands on the second album of Southern Rock Opera 38 Special that addressed coming of age experiences like dropping acid and downing an entire bottle of vodka. Hood laments in the chorus that he never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd perform. The song is uplifting and praises these bands for helping to form who he is. Hood grew up in a time of change and became a musician when the regional bands that fueled his adolescence identity were fading away. Hood not only took up where these bands left off musically, but furthered their message of what the South means, and he de fines this on Southern Rock Opera in the storytelling style of Lynyrd Skynyrd based on the realities of touring constantly. In exclaiming his love to rock, he tells how liberating it is, as freeing as the drugs and alcohol he imbibed. 87 As boys growing up with budding interests in musicianship, the Truckers looked to Skynyrd as an example of how they could translate their Southern cultural identity into a marketable commodity Skynyrd taught the band to be proud that they are from the Sou th while rising above the small town mentality which often meant small mindedness. Ultimately the road offered offered Hood and the band transcendental freedom. A number of the songs illustrate this desire for liberation from the small hometown. A younger Patterson 88 The song was later recorded in 1998 by his band The Drive By 87 Southern Rock Opera Mp3, Soul Dump, 2001. 88 Drive By Truckers News, letter, 2011, http://www.drivebytruckers.com/news.html.
46 Truckers for their debut album Gangstabilly 89 The song has a rawness equivalent to anger. The lyrics of frustration encourage the listener to imagine Hood is trapped, as sure as the dog with its foot caught in the trap in Fay. blasting drums, a blues harmonica and slide guitar music made for a smoky honky tonk. The music emphasizes embitterment in the almost comical title and rhymed lyrics: Tired of living in Buttholeville Tired of my job and my wife Lucille Tired of my kids Ronnie and Neil Tired of my 68 Bonneville Working dow The food here tastes like the way I feel Gonna reach right in, gonna grab the till Buy a brand new hat and a Coupe deVille Lay a patch on the road that runs over the hill Gonna lay in the sun till my skin peels Drinking the best scotch whiskey, eating lobster and eel g back to Buttholeville Never going, never going, never going, never going back. 90 In a recent reflection published on the Drive Hood explained the and how his outlook has altered since he wrote it Althou gh Hood felt confined in his hometown in n orthern Alabama, he claims the song does not specifically pertain to that place even though the town of his upbringing did [ him ] p unk r ock, which was defined by a ttitude more than anything, and this influence rocks 89 Drive By Truckers, Ganstabilly, Mp3, Soul Dump, 1998. 90 Ganstabilly Mp3, Soul Dump, 1998.
47 emerges 91 Hood distances himself culturally from the Old South and explores a more progressive, critical New South. The song hints at the famous rivalry between Canadian rock musician Neil Young and the Southern Ronnie Van Zant, leader of Lynyrd Skynyrd, when Hood names them as his kids. Hood describes Young difference s of opinion as similar to those he knew from childhood who were offended by in Muscle Shoals where The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many other bands recorded. 92 The duality in its pride and shame of the South rises in these disagreements when one man wants to call out this place while the other defends it. In a documenta ry film about the Truckers, The Secret to a Happy Ending, David Hood, father of Patterson and fellow musician conveys this duality of pride and shame in am a redneck [ ] 93 Patterson Hood reflects A few years later, I ended up moving off and a few years passed and I began rethinking my turbulent relationship with home, both literally and figuratively. Home, as in my family and home as in my hometown and home as in my region, [with] known, I co wrote a in particular, I wrote a song about the frie ndship/ feud of Ronnie and Neil 94 91 Drive By Truckers News. 92 Jimmy Johnson Music http://jimmyjohnsonmusic.com/. 93 The Secret to a Happy Ending directed by Barr Weissman (FilmBuff, 2010), DVD. 94 Drive By Truckers News.
48 Hood wants to own the place where he comes from, and not let someone else represent it who does not have a native point of view, like Canadian Neil Young. Southern Rock Opera The song tells the and even view of the South in the 1970s. Em erging from the Civil Rights Era, obvious racism still existed, which embittered Young. Young may have assumed that every Southerner, particularly working class whites, was like racist Governor George Wallace. Skynyrd sang of the views of more progressive Southerners, and al though prejudice should not be ignored, written after the band had toured the state and fell in love with the scenery and folks they met along the way. The when Skynyrd addresses the negative aspects of their culture while also hailing the place 95 While some criticism from Neil Young was based i n truth, he did not have a boots on the ground point of view that Lynyrd Skynyrd had to see the whole picture Southern Rock Opera Hood addresses these opposing views, and highlights how important it was that Skynyrd praised Alabama 95
49 96 Skynyrd points to the duality in the 1970s, which Hood picks up on, defines, and uses in his songs in the new mi fortunately, time has allowed more justice, beauty, and equality to emerge from the region. propels the rest of the album. In the liner notes, Hood introduces the album that allows the listener to better modern day Southern the ultimate vehicle for tying all those loose ends together into what would hopefully flow like a big story. It also gave us a great excuse for going with a 3 guitar lineup and exploring that musical ly. 97 The Truckers take on a mission to define the South through the story of Skynyrd, and, Southern Rock Opera did the same for the Truckers. cohesion of the narrative while simultaneously assuming the operatic themes of romance mixed with tragedy. Looking Tommy and Quadrophenia a common subject is youth rebellion against societal norms. Quadrophenia presented the Southern Rock Opera twists and expands on these precedents. Also in the vein of opera, the album has two acts: the first addresses the South and what the band went through in their youths, and the second is about life on the road. 96 Southern Rock Opera Mp3, Soul Dump, 2001. 97 Drive By Truckers, accessed March 15, 2013, http://www.drivebytruckers.com/records.html#southern.
50 The album cover of Southern Rock Opera (Figure 4 ) offers an introduction to the of Highway 72, which is the su horizon against a fiery sunset, as a dark owl flies over the road. The image correlates with touring on the road, while the horizon signifies a better future by correcting the 98 in their small 99 Figure 4 Album cover Southern Rock Opera 100 Southern Rock Opera school students, 98 Mike Co Southern Rock Opera Mp3, Soul Dump, 2001. 99 'nrd 'skin 'nrd) Mp3, Studio One, 1973. 100 Wes Freed, Southern Rock Opera Cover art, 2001.
51 101 That Hood c Southern Gothic. 102 Like Brown, the Truckers use a car accident to show the quick blow of tragedy to set the stage for the mixture of glory and pain, a duality that Hood sees in Southern c ulture. The glory is reflected in how young and promising the dead teenagers were, and them down; their graduation the next day would have allowed true liberation. suffocated the Truckers, takes the next step to freedom and independence from this place: Don't know why they even bother putting this highway on the map Everybody that's ever been on it knows exactly where they're at Hell s on both ends of it And no where's in between This highway's mean Seems like it's always hot down here, no matter when you come It's the kind of heat that holds you like a ma ma holds her son Tight when he tries to walk, even tighter if he runs It's a mean old dusty highway But it's the only one that'll get you there That'll get you there Mean old highway Stuck to the ground in Mississippi It's the one'll set me free 101 Drive By Truckers. 102
52 It's the same one that I see Being ripped up off the ground and wrapped around me Don't let it fool you this highway's mean I don't need a map to tell me where I am today This feeling that I have has always led the way Down here, you're running from a broken heart Or to a heart that you have to break on this mean old highway 103 The third song on Southern Rock Opera begins like most of the songs on the album, with an electric guitar riff. Yet this one is slow and a sense of urgency is left behind. While many of the oth er songs on the album express clear context and poetic nature that tell stor ies and invite more deciphering by the listener. runs through upper Mississippi and Alabama where the band hails from. Travel for a s ense of freedom is a common theme in Southern literature and music. For instance, in Light in August a young woman, Lena, walks across Alabama to find the father of her unborn child. She wants the man to marry her and take away the sin of being an unwed mother so she will have the freedom to enter society. Cooley paints a place of love in this entrapment freedom paradigm. He sings, that you have to break on of sorrow he is Patterson cannot get in or out of our hometown (the 103 Southern Rock Opera
53 Shoals in n ode to their home, yet conveys how small that place felt to these men growing up. Cooley uses the sense of being tied to the lan dscape when he highlights the personifies the highway as it were a threatening character lurking in the landscape. He ays hot down here, no matter when you come/ It's the kind of heat that holds you like a mama holds her son / Tight when he nts him to stay too, but he must run. After discussing this song about dreaming where the road may take these anxious the second side, Act II, of the album, this so ng shows artistic expression is a type of a novelist gave him a real income, unlike his former three job minimum wage existence. for the trunks that schlep their gear: Got them pretty road cases Protect our asses, protect our faces, protect our guitars, protect our amps. Got them pretty road cases throw them out an airplane and they'll just bounce Paint our name on them road cases, stencil and white spray paint "Drive by Truckers" on every one or maybe just "DBT" Gonna get ourselves a big tour bus, maybe even an airplane Fly around the world and back. Hope it don't run out of gas. Got them pretty road cases Someday we'll hock our r oad cases, when we don't need them anymore To pay off that big cocaine dealer (the only thing they're useful for) One day we'll sell our road cases, when we don't need them anymore When we outlive our usefulness,
54 The only thing road cases are useful for. G ot them pretty road cases. 104 The song begins with a loud guitar intro that leads into Hood straining his voice for the guitar hits low and scratchy with notes that linger; it is a guitar assault. The sound guitarist Stevie Gaines whom the s pure rock and a favorite at concert performances. Written in dedication of the road life, the guitar forces and gravelly singing means of escape), road cases w ith their names on them, tour buses, amps, and flying around the world. Even the adjectives that come before these products of the road 105 Road cases share a resemblance to caskets, which hint at the loo ming tragedy in Southern Rock Opera in a somber, bleakly honest tone. In contrast to Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1977. The slowed musical style and commemorative lyrics convey the tragedy of life on the road. Ending t he eight minute song, the band slowly jams for two and a half minutes with scratchy electric guitar sounding and prominent piano: 104 Southern Rock Opera Mp3, Soul Dump, 2001. 105 Southern Rock Opera
55 Looking out the window, the trees are getting closer it seems. Thinking bout you, d arling. Adding up the cost of these dream Strapped to this projectile, just a blink ago I was back in school. Smoking by the gym door, practicing my rock star attitude And I'm scared shitless of what's coming next. I'm scared shitless, these angels I see in the trees are waiting for me. The engine s have stopped now. We all know we are going down. Last call for alcohol. Sure wish I could have another round. And I'm scared shitless of what's coming next. Scared shitless, these angels I see in the trees are waiting for me. Waiting for me. Friends in t he swamp. 106 Friends on the ground, in the trees. Angels and fuselage. 107 fear of living, fear of change, fear of the same. Angels stand for the beauty and ecstasy, and final deliverance of death. The fuselage of the plane is the vehicle of death for the 108 Even in personal situations for th e band, a duality exists in how they find freedom and realization of their dreams of success as musicians. But the road led Skynyrd to their demise, and by ending with their tragic story the Truckers recognize that they may end the same way. Hood told Oxfo rd American in fall of 2012 that he wanted to stop touring as much so he could see his wife and children more. 109 The Truckers begin their journey on the back roads, much like Fay, and end on the big highways and under even bigger skies on buses and planes. In the songs discussed 106 Southern Rock Opera Mp3, Soul Dump, 2001. 107 Southern Rock Opera 108 Southern Rock Opera 109 Oxford American
56 that relate directly with Lynyrd Skynyrd, the South and the road, a search for identity is common, and even more important is the search for freedom. The Truckers ultimately are not a direct second coming of Skynyrd because so much h as changed in Southern culture the good of beautiful land and the bad in how racism still comes about. Therefore, the Truckers continue to combat misconceptions abou worth.
57 Conclusion In order to define the contemporary American South it is necessary to look at its people. To get away from past misunderstandings and biases of this region, an exploration of its forgotten culture, the working class and working poor is necessary to complete a definition of American Southern culture. These firefighters, grocery baggers, tired construction workers at the bar, quiet boys and topless dancers dream of the open road an d carry deep, passionate stories that Larry Brown and the Drive By Truckers delve into in order to create. The South is these stories. It is a place where hardness and sentimentality coexist. As Brown and the Truckers consider a culture that struggles for survival, they recognize the need for change of a culture that has been mired down by a cruel past. That duality points to the beauty By Truckers, 110 e, roots, flags, it is a place of survival, a defeated land that had to find its footing again, as Fay did or as Lynyrd Skynyrd did after some members died in the plane crash in 1977. The new millennium offers time to make a fresh identity for the America n South. The characters created by Brown and the Truckers search for new identities. In defining their characters in the context of the South, they define the South. Fay is vulnerable, strong willed and beautiful. She recognizes her allure and her death g rip tenacity, as well as her limitations. The South is built on rough ground and still confronts 110
58 challenges, and, like like with a purse over her shoulder, the South is moving towards better light Southern Rock Opera Fay search for an escape, but often do not find one. Brown takes the back roads, while the social about learning to read the New South. Bringing these mediums together helps make more visible the essential Southern culture. Their works push for a reexaminat ion of Southern culture that reveals more of its beauties without ignoring its shame and tragedy.
59 References American Revolutions: Southern Rock Directed by Anne Fentress. 2005. CMT, 2006. Television. Oxford American Last modified October 9, 2012. http://www.oxfordamerican.org/ articles/2012/oct/09/essay patterson hood/. Bone, Martyn. Postsouthern Sense of Place in Contemporary Fiction Louisiana State University Press, 2005. Brown, Larry. Conversations with Larry Brown Ed. Jay Watson. University of Mississippi, 2007. D i r t y W o r k N e w Y o r k : A l g o n q u i n 1 9 8 9 Fay New York: Scribner, 2000. Oxford American March 1992. Joe Chapel Hill: Warner, 1991. Browne, Jackson. Running on Emp ty. Asylum. Mp3, 1977. Cash, Jean W. University Press of Mississippi, 2011. Cobb, James C. The South and America Since World War II New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Go Go Boots ATO. Mp3, 2 011. Jimmy Johnson Music http://jimmyjohnsonmusic.com/. Drive By Truckers, The Dirty South New West. Mp3, 2004.
60 Ganstabilly Soul Dump. 1998, Mp3. Southern Rock Opera Soul Dump. 2001, Mp3. Faulkner, William Light in August Smith & Haas, 1932. Freed, Wes. Southern Rock Opera Soul Dump. Cover art. 2001. By Truckers are Almost Always on the Westfield Patch Last modified March 15, 2013. http://westfield.patch.com/blog_posts/all over the place drive by truckers are almost always on the road. Greene, Melissa Fay. Praying For Sheetrock Addison Wesley, 1991. Drive By Truckers News. 2011. http://www.drivebytruckers.com/news.html. Drive By Truckers. Accessed March 15, 2013. http://www.drivebytruckers.com/records.html#southern. Decca. Mp3, 1970 'nrd 'skin 'nrd) Studio One. Mp3, 1973. Second Helping Studio One. 1974, Mp3. Makarechi, Kia. Huffington Post La st modified September 24, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/ 09/24/lynyrd skynyrd confederate flag_n_1909135.html. Malone, Bill C. Class University of Illinois Press, 2002. McCarthy, Cormac. The Road Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
61 Parsons, Gram. GP Reprise. Mp3, 1973. The Human Marvels. Accessed April 14, 2013. http://thehumanmarvels.com/66/grady stiles jr the murderous lobster ma n/ectrodactyly. Reilly, Jeannie C. Written by Tom T. Hall. Harper Valley PTA Plantation. Mp3, 1968. The Rough South of Larry Brown Directed by Gary Hawkins. 2008. Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, 2008. DVD. The Secr et to a Happy Ending D irected by Barr Weissman 2010 FilmBuff, 2010 DVD. Just One More, A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown 19 Songs Celebrating a Great American Writer on May22, 2007 Artists Include Alejandr o Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen, T Model Ford, Vic Statement, January 29, 2007. http://www.thescottmiller.com/pdfpress/bloodshot_0207.pdf 40 Greatest Hits Mercury. 1978, Mp3. Stand By Your Man Epic. Mp3, 1968. Tomato. Mp3, 1978. Various A rtists. Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown Bloodshot. 2007, Mp3