Why SOUTHERN ROCK Might Just Be IDEAL AMERICA
Or How Little Feat Will Save Us All
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 2 Episode #28
ALL ABOUT IT
FEATURED SONG: REC - “No Way Out for Me” (from Symphony for the Weird)
First thing I gotta say is I don’t know a TON about southern rock. I know some classic bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top and Allman Brothers. More recent alt bands like My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon, and some of the newer bands like Alabama Shakes and Derek Trucks. I’m not a southern rock expert, or even a giant fan. But I did get into it and learn to respect it pretty early on.
I got into Little Feat for a brief period for three reasons. The first was at the time I was looking for any band that had similar qualities to Chicago – jammy rock with horns. The second was I was and still am very much into New Orleans music and the like. The third was I had just discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. In fact, a few months ago I did an episode on Skynyrd, and talked about how people who don’t know them assume they were and are Confederate southern hicks. And how that’s never been the case.
It’s a point worth fleshing out here this week, because the same can be said for southern rock in general, especially from the 1970s & 1980s. People generally believe the stereotypes, and I say this because I believed it. I believed it as strongly as I believed that southerners are generally dumb and racist. Bridging perceived gaps in ideology means being willing to be wrong. It means being open to hearing something you don’t like and still being open to pushing through that to make a real connection. It took a lot to disabuse myself of these notions. Specifically it took desire, curiosity, research, and connection. I had to want to believe differently. I had to be curious enough want to know if I was right or wrong. I had to do my homework and find those answers. And I had to connect to the music, and the people doing the music.
And that’s why southern rock might be the ideal American music for our current world. It’s downhome enough to feel traditional and familiar and comforting, but eclectic and inclusive enough to weave together elements of rock, blues, country, folk, pop, and sometimes even metal and jazz. And in the case of Little Feat, it’s even got that New Orleans swampiness. It’s a gumbo of musical styles that has room for many tastes. And the more you learn about it, the more familiar it feels, and the more you see through the prejudices (PRE-judging) to the truth: it ain’t what you think it is. And oh it’s damn good shit.
Coming from a pop, jazz/blues and rock background, it took nudges of association to get me into southern rock of any kind. Like I’ve said in other podcasts, finding common elements - things you’re familiar with in one context that you can latch onto comfortably and with some understanding in a less familiar context. For me it was Chicago, Led Zeppelin and the blues. You can hear that in the song below, off my band REC’s 2020 EP, Symphony for the Weird, in collaboration with the band America UK:
REC - “No Way Out for Me” (from Symphony for the Weird) - https://youtu.be/GqagfQ0qrME
Do you know Little Feat? Have you ever been into southern rock? Or do you stay away from it because you think it’s for hicks? Is there other music you’ve gotten into that took expanding your mind to get there? Or non-music shit that you had to get over to join the party? Discuss dammit!