Tuesday, July 14, 2015

flowers of The South

After recent debate about the confederate flag, found myself thinking -- What are my thoughts and associations about this Civil War-era symbol?

In my life, I've always lived in northern states, but I've been to, and through, some southern states:  Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee (Oak Ridge), North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Texas.  I love to hear Southern accents, and I have always thought of the South as a beautiful, interesting place, and of the Civil War as being -- long ago.  And over.

I have never thought about the confederate flag very much.  Before the mass shooting at the Charleston, South Carolina, church, if somebody would have asked me what do you think about the confederate flag, really, three things would have come to my mind -- one movie and two songs.

One song -- "Long Haired Country Boy."  And that turned out to be wrong -- if you Google The Charlie Daniels Band, the confederate flag doesn't appear; then I thought, Was it the Allman Brothers? 

Type them in, no flag of Confederacy appears -- then put in Lynyrd Skynyrd -- that's it!  They used it on an album cover, maybe...a thing like that, I do not take personally or politically -- it's show business. 

It seems reasonable to me to assume that Lynyrd Skynyrd ("If I leave here tomorrow -- Would you still remember me...") was not advocating civil war or racist oppression or mass shootings....


"Long Haired Country Boy":

(People say I'm no good
Crazy as a loon...)

I really like the sound of that song -- it has the seductive "womp" downbeat like "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" and the gritty, irresistible menace of Alabama 3's "Woke Up This Morning" (The Sopranos' vibrating, wailing, blues-y theme song). 

(In the Muscle Shoals documentary Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler says, "I call it the 'sonarity' of a record -- the way it impacts on the ear instantly...")


The other song I associate is "Dixie" and the film which comes to mind is Shag {1989, directed by Zelda Barron}.  In it, one of the main characters, Melaina, enters the "Miss Sun Queen" contest at Myrtle Beach (South Carolina - 1963). 

Wearing her bikini, Melaina rehearses a sexy dance which she calls "modern ballet" which she plans to perform in the competition -- her friend Luanne walks in and sees her and is shocked, and lobbies her to "wear my one-piece" and do a dramatic reading from Gone With The Wind for the contest instead because, Luanne states, "Modern ballet -- is trashy-lookin'!"

So they and their group of friends go to the beach for the contest and this mean local girl shows up wearing her bikini with the confederate flag on it. 

Melaina is intimidated -- she knows that other girl is going to win.  "I want my bikini!" she says desperately to her friends.  Luanne tells her, "Others may cheapen themselves" (with a pointed glance at the local girls),

but you, Melaina -- you are a flow-ah of the South!"

It's so sweet and silly and authentic.

To the tune of "Dixie," the local girl does a sexy dance (choreographed with less elegance than gusto) and wins the contest.


(Shag:  The Movie is not well-known -- it wasn't advertised and promoted effectively...  It is an underrated gem.)

It is generally about teenaged foolishness and sincerity and awe and dreams and desires for what the future might hold.

This film has wonderful music.  They call it "beach music."

The story, and the people in it, are what I would call very "true."


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