To kick off tonight’s festivities, we feature another submission from one of blog regulars, in this case the iconoclast known hereabouts as Godless Heathen. I confess, reading his introduction the first time through put a smile on my face. I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as you’ll enjoy his musical selection, which is saying something.
So with no further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, Godless Heathen:
I can’t claim deep ancestral roots in Georgia, being the first member of my family born in this state. And although my hometown would eventually become part of the metropolitan Atlanta area, it was much more rural than suburban when I was a child.
Men in Liberty overalls would still sit around a pot-belly stove talking about the weather and the crops while they sipped Cokes. From time to time, they would quietly spike those Cokes from a pint nestled in the front pocket, right next to a short-barrel .38 Smith.
It wasn’t a time of innocence, but rather a time when the old-timers cussed the change barreling down on them. I was in the first school classes to be desegregated, and we watched the space race from our wooden desks. It’s almost as though Georgia moved from the 19th to the 21st centuries during my life.
I left Georgia for a while after college, but she drew me back and I won’t mind if I never leave her again. My vocation and avocations have taken me to every nook and cranny of this state, from the hills of Habersham to the marshes of Glynn. I can document visiting all 159 counties of Georgia and not many can say that. I’ve been 70 stories above Peachtree Street and a hundred feet below it.
I’ve been surrounded by head-high Seminole County cotton when the temperature was over 100 degrees and the gnats were as thick as the air. I’ve taken a plunge into Chattooga River whitewater when it was so cold that ice formed on our boats and clothes. I’ve been into her bowels in a Walker County cave and madly in love on St Simon’s island. I’ve stood atop Brasstown Bald and staggered through Underground.
I tasted all her delicious foods, from fine Atlanta restaurant cuisine to Americus pool-hall chili, though I still can’t stomach collards. I watched Hank Aaron belt ‘em out of Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium and stood alongside the first black mayor of Atlanta to watch that landmark implode into a pile of rubble.
And I’ve laid far too many friends and loved ones to rest in her red dirt.
So my Friday Night Music dedication is to the great state of Georgia. She ain’t perfect, but I’m her son and I love her like a son loves his mother. They say this song is about a woman and not the state, but we’ve adopted it as ours, and it’s the official state song. So many great artists have performed it, but I like the Red-headed Stranger’s version the best. I hope it will inspire a theme of music about Georgia and by Georgia artists.
– Jay Bookman