It's taken me a while since first opening up this magazine to actually writing about it. The reason why? Each year, I slowly take my time to devour this issue -- reading the great articles and discovering all the great music. I don't like to just fly through it.
This year, Oxford American celebrates 10 years with a double CD. The concept of "southern music" is broad. It's wide enough to include the Roches last year, and to include Neko Case this year. But that's what great about this issue and the music include. It defies simple categorization. Blues. R&B. Soul. Country. Rock. Both new and old There were two particular articles that stood out for me. The highlight was Kevin Brockmeier's moving piece on Elton and Betty White, one of Arkansas' most unique couples, let alone musicians. (That's Katie Callen's photo of Betty and Elton on the right). Not only did they record hours of their short raunchy sex-filled, yet still quite innocent, music, they ran for governor against a guy named Bill Clinton. Betty was 30-plus years Elton's senior. How they came to find each other, and their devoted love, is an interesting and heartbreaking tale.
Despite his over-the-top infatuation, Jack Pendarvis's article on the aforementioned Case provides some interesting insight into this indie/alt-country diva. She can identify flowers, notices little things like spider webs, and reads Russian. Oh, and she's a bookstore nerd. As if being one of indie-rock's hotties with a powerhouse voice wasn't enough. Wow, now I'm infatuated.
Few music articles end up with the writer and several musicians touring the home of William Faulkner -- unless of course, it's Oxford American.
So find yourself a copy on the newstand if you can, or order it online. By then it may be a back issue. But the writing and music inside is timeless. In the meantime, listen to the three songs I've included over on the Currently Spinning Playlist.