Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

December 7, 2013

The South keeps America interesting

(Continued)

That said, there’s definitely something different about the way Southerners use language, although it’s in danger of disappearing as the nation becomes more suburbanized. Exactly how to characterize it is a tougher question.

As a kid growing up in New Jersey, I first heard the siren song of the South on AM radio. Popular music back then had grown formulaic and polite -- all Patti Page and Perry Como. But not on WNJR in Newark, a station whose rhyming DJs played artists like B.B. King, Jimmy Reed and Little Willie John -- blues singers with origins in the Deep South and wit and emotional directness unmatched in the Top 40. “Well you ain’t so big,” Jimmy Reed sang, “You just tall, that’s all.”

Elsewhere on the dial, my basketball jock friends and I started following the great Jerry West’s college career on WWVA out of Wheeling, W. Va. “Zeke from Cabin Creek.” After the games, they’d play straight-up country music: Don Gibson, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and the immortal Hank Williams.

Somewhere in there, I picked up a taste for bluegrass. On our second date, the Arkansas girl I eventually married went to see Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys at a high school auditorium in Nelson County, Va. It was incredible, like hearing Eric Clapton at a corner bar.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say it was how the Arkansas girl talked, but that was definitely part of it. She’d ask for a “pin” when she wanted something to write with. A city girl from Little Rock, she sounded like Huckleberry Finn to me.

Prices were “high as a cat’s back.” She’d refuse a second helping on the grounds that she was “full as a tick.” She’d libel her own posterior as “too much ham for the sack.”

Text Only
Opinion
  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

  • Guru will work for food ‘At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion dollars. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has beco

    August 16, 2014

  • Ferguson police fumbled protests From the chief of the police department to the president of the United States, government officials on Thursday promised a different approach to the racially-charged unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But the situation demands a lot more tha

    August 16, 2014

  • A better tax code solution: taxing consumption According to much conventional wisdom, the flap over corporate “tax inversions” is just the latest evidence that the tax code needs a comprehensive overhaul like the one agreed to by congressional leaders and President Reagan in 1986.Whether you cons

    August 15, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks