This year we’ve compiled our “greatest hits,” including selections of the most beloved music writing from our archive—guest edited by Brittany Howard, the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and frontwoman of the Alabama Shakes. This jam-packed issue also includes new essays on iconic Southern artists who have changed the trajectory of American music.
Rather than including a CD this year, we’ve asked guest contributors to curate a selection of playlists that limn the bounty of Southern music across genres. These are available to stream on Spotify.
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“You just have to see” is always good advice in New Orleans, which is how I ended up at the 2007 premiere of Trixie and the Treetrunks, a ten-part puppet telenovela in which Trixie and her pal Marsha try to make sense of a post-apocalyptic world by starting a band to send secret messages from the center of the earth.
The Country Club is a pale yellow, classic nineteenth-century Creole mansion with a grand front porch. Inside are fifteen-foot ceilings, polished hardwood floors, and palms in pots. People dine in the house’s rooms, and there’s a bar in the back near the pool where Anne, on her way to the bathroom, saw a naked woman ordering a drink.
Nothing I met in Egypt, Kentucky, was like I imagined, except the cliché of rolling hills and craggy mountains. Except the poke, and other ground cover, green. No guns were visible except the Confederate flags that flew, that hung limp, wrapped in a wan clutch, not fluttering, clinging to their poles.
When attacks on my beliefs and stances occur, they come from the right. Or from someone who has a score to settle. But here came Tunde, without personal malice, and with great charm, saying things that made me supremely uncomfortable, making it clear that he saw me as a kind of colonial force, appropriating black cultural processes and products.
In my youth, I’d often join my grandmother for dinner at the iconic white-tablecloth steak house she owned in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. She dominated the dining room from table 83, a four-top with the best sight lines of the entire restaurant. On the wall behind her permanent seat, over her left shoulder, hung a grand painting: a Mardi Gras tableau of a half dozen white-robed men carrying torches, leading a parade down a spectator-thronged French Quarter street.
Amid the chorus of opinions and think pieces, the loudest, most eloquent voice was Mayor Landrieu’s, immortalized in a speech he delivered on May 19, 2017. The remarks were meant to unify the city after a divisive period, but they were also meant to explain, from start to finish, the position he had taken from the beginning. “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it,” he said.
A short story from the Fall 2018 issue.He saw no need to damn a place just on the face of it; he figured there must be a flower blooming somewhere in West Memphis, though he had seen no sign of one, and that maybe East St. Louis had a park where children played tag-you’re-it together while old men read newspapers from benches and spoke of last night’s ballgame.
There is a narrow yellow paneled house in New Orleans that’s got a lean to it, a lean, that is, toward falling. It’s on the short, nearly forgotten end of Wilson Avenue, which should really be called a street since there is nothing grandiose about it. Though if it were called its true, true, name, this story would not be begging its way to the page. The Broom clan, five girls and seven boys, lived on the side of the street where there are only three remaining houses. Ours is the one begging to fall. And I don’t blame it.
There’s a strong breeze from the South and petals are flying off flowering trees. We can smell the briny Gulf of Mexico. Dozens of new seedlings have been planted and braced so they can set roots. Audubon Park used to get the attention, but City Park’s spruced up and all promise. Covering thirteen hundred acres in Mid City, this has become everyone’s park.