Sunday, August 16, 2009

While we're laying people to rest, RIP Jim Dickinson.


ib said...

I've heard Jim's 1972 LP, "Dixie Fried" previously, but knew about his contribution to the Memphis Sound solely through the Big Star connection. Oh, and not forgetting his piano on "Wild Horses".

Sarah in Mississippi said...

I saw him in Oxford at a taping of Thacker Mountain ... had no idea it would be the last time. Sad business, this dying stuff.

Jon said...

I'm gonna tell the truth, I only dimly knew who he was. When I read his obituary, I realized we had a very similar aesthetic. I remember defending some of the bands he produced. There used to be a lot more proponents of virtuosity for it's own sake and they were horrified that Dickinson's projects sounded sloppy. Too late to fully appreciate him in life, the best I could do was honor him in death.

Sarah, I'm kind of tired of this dying thing. It's become something of a fad among my friends. We've narrowed your location to somewhere around Oxford. I'll have to admit that the south is opaque to me. It's where all of the good music comes from. Coming from metropolitan New York the south was a huge blank spot on my map. There are no unions. Beatniks do not figure prominently in southern history. They've got tons of Jesus, but he seems to be mostly the mean judgmental Jesus who is also popular in the Southern Midwest. On the other hand the few southern cities I've visited seemed to be a lot less segregated than the hypocritically liberal bay area. The south does not contribute to international pop culture fads because it seems to have a highly developed pop culture of it's own. Southern culture also seems to be a lot more genuinely of the populi than the stuff the entertainment industry feeds the rest of us. While southern whites seem to be as conservative and racist as their reputation would indicate, southern Blacks seem to be as left wing as any voting bloc in America.

Sarah, tell us more.

Sarah in Mississippi said...

See what happens when I skip class?
The teacher calls on me every time, and I can't answer. :)

Well, as with many things (chocolate and mothers-in-law come to mind) a little bit of death goes a long way. I'm sorry for the loss you've experienced. One of the penalties for living to a ripe age is that the grim reaper starts to call folks you know on over, like some kind of perverse Red Rover game.

Actually, I don't live near Oxford ... my son goes to college there. I live farther south, quite a piece. But I go to Oxford for the cultural opportunities from time to time. A lot of good bands and writers pass through there 'cause it's a college town. And you already know about the richness of its literature.

If it's any consolation, the South is kinda opaque to me, too, and I've lived here all my life (so far). It's a hard thing to nail down, really. It's a strange mix of religion, rage, mysticism and history that just never dies. Most anybody who's never lived here has a preconceived notion about what it's like ... what the people are like. But in truth, it's not much like what you see on television. I've seen the hyper-religion and the racism that we're most notorious for, but none of the people I know personally are like that. And I'm about as white as they come. I think people oughta just live and let live. It grieves me that when people learn I'm the South that the first thing they assume is that I'm racist and hate anything that isn't white. It's a burden other people in the country don't really have, and I envy that.

And there's racism all around, really ... I've known black people who wouldn't let me close because I'm white. And I've known white people whose social standing is considered higher than mine who looked at me like I'm a bug to squash (the most memorable was a woman from New York). And I understand it. It's fear. It's always been fear, anytime it happens. And now I see a growing trend that I find a little disturbing of people turning their hate (and not just in the South) toward people of Mexican heritage. I understand about the illegal problem, but it's a dangerous thing to target an entire race. I reckon every race needs somebody to look down on though. It’s kinda like that feeling of relief you get when you’re the last person in line, and somebody gets in line behind you.

Anyhow, thanks for calling on me. I should have a speech prepared by now, because pretty much everybody who doesn't live here asks me the same questions. (No offense.) Southerners are a novelty to most people.

I have another son who lives in California. He says the people where he lives are hard and impersonal and cold, not like the people "back home" who are friendly and open. And nobody knows how to cook. But he's only been there two years. Maybe it takes a while to adjust. I figure people are just people, no matter where you go. We just all talk a little differently.

I love your blog and admire your thought process. Thanks for sharing, the way you do.

Jon said...

Thanks Sarah. I've just posted on my take on California. I've spent about half of my life here. The rest was about evenly divided between suburban New Jersey and several different places, urban and small town, in the midwest. I still haven't altogether figured out California. When I was talking about White and Black voting blocs in the south, I wasn't talking about individual prejudices, I was talking about patterns in voting. Actually the most violently prejudiced people I've ever met were in Chicago. I know it's supposed to be a sophisticated northern city and all, but godalmighty those people lived to be mean. Hating each other was what they did with themselves. Also, no surprise that you met a New Yorker who looked down on you. I'll have to admit to an automatic flinch when I hear certain southern accents. I was raised that way. Who was the New York comedian who made fun of that? Lenny Bruce maybe? "Ay, whassa matta witchoo southanuhs? Why yoo talk so stoopit like dat?"

sarahmch said...

I understand about the accent. I've had some folks imagine me to be a fairly intelligent person when they read me in print, but I can tell my perceived IQ plummets about 40 points the minute I open my mouth to speak -- particularly "up North."

And I admit to my own flinching when it comes to hearing certain accents, too. The woman from NY whom I mentioned? Her accent is a cross somewhere between Julia Child and Mrs. Howell on Gilligan's Island. Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I sorta think the differences between people make them interesting, though.

OK, I've taken up enough room on your blog. This is the Jon Show, not the Sarah Show. Thanks for the hospitality, though ... it's mighty ... well ... Southern, of you.

Jon said...

Sarah, you misunderstand, this is where Jon talks in hopes of drawing other people out. It worked! It worked! You're welcome to come here and let us know what's on your mind. Anytime.

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