No Depression dusted off this 2003 article today. There’s a pretty good history of Stax Records in the article, as well as descriptions of some of the best spots in town. What I really admire though, is the author’s attempt at writing about Memphis as a social phenomenon, or the city’s “sense of place.” Many people struggle to capture the character of places with strong identities. Often such courageous attempts are met with criticism or complete rejection. Trying to get at the meaning of a place is irresistible, though, perhaps because the real meaning of a place comes from our collective perception, and not anyone’s individual idea.
Anyway, it’s a good article:
You know it, you love it, you wait for it every year in your mailbox…The Oxford American Music issue. Then every year some goose steals the magazine, or you leave it in a rental car, or the subscription your old boyfriend gave you runs out just before this issue. (That weasel.) Now ten years of the best writing around is available all in one place. Just in time. Wish they had the CDs, too. Click here to buy it straight from the source.
Tallahatchie Flats is a row of sharecropper cabins for rent on the Tallahatchie River just outside Greenwood, Mississippi. As mentioned in the Lusco’s post below, my friends and I recently opted for a good old country New Year’s Eve. We decided that the Flats would be a great break from the normal hoo-ha.
Our experience: After dinner at Lusco’s, we returned to the Flats to find that our host, the positively genteel Mr. Bubba, had a bonfire burning in the old sugar kettle out front. And it was just for us! He had already gone to bed. So we cooked up some winter punch (recipe is coming as soon as fall festival season gets here), got out the mugs and fireworks, and did it up. After midnight and toasts, we stumbled across turnrows and down to an old churchyard where they say Robert Johnson is buried. They also say he died in Tush Hog’s house, which is the cabin on the far left in the picture above. Who knows if it’s true. Who cares? It was a blast.
Forewarning: Upon check-in everyone is gently asked if they are “familiar with country living.” The floors have cracks and there are newspapers on the wall (which actually makes interesting reading if you’re just standing around bored for a minute or someone is talking too much or something.) There was also a report of mice in the night. But everything is impeccably clean, beds are comfortable, and fireplaces keep things warm in winter. And you couldn’t ask for a more peaceful setting or a more gracious host.
Tallahatchie Flats’ doppelganger in Clarksdale: The Shack-Up Inn
Tallahatchie Flats; 58458 County Road 518, Greenwood, MS; (ph) 662-453-1854 or 866-93FLATS
I think this sounds grand. American Dream Safari tours leave out of Memphis daily in a restored ’55 Cadillac, and include: Delta Day Trip (“Highway 61 blues and blacktop”); Yards, Gardens, and Architecture (in Memphis); Juke Joint Full of Blues (good way to hit the town and cut loose, fee includes entrance to three clubs); Drive by Shooting (not a funny title, but allows one to pretend to be William Eggleston for a day); Road Therapy Tour (if you just need to get away and cruise through the Arkansas countryside); Gospel Church (fee includes tithe and lunch at the fantabulous Gus’s Fried Chicken); and Tupelo Day Trip (to you-know-who’s house.) You just hop in the car and the driver whisks you away. Perfect.
American Dream Safari; 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week; firstname.lastname@example.org; 901.527.8870; PO Box 3129, Memphis, TN, 38173; www.americandreamsafari.com
Filed under Arkansas, art, blues, food, gospel, history, Mississippi, museums, music, outsider art, people, restaurants, Tennessee, tours