A couple of nights ago on a whim I started pulling books off their shelves and wondering: what would be the contents, hypothetically, of an Alabama Music Reader? This stack was a short start—but since going through these titles for their choicest passages I’ve been thinking of many more texts to include, and it seems more and more like a good idea.
Recently on this blog I wrote about my lifelong penchant for making tables of contents. And so yesterday the habit kicked in and I began compiling a long table of contents for this (still hypothetical) reader. It’s a good list and growing, reflecting a broad mix of Alabama spirituals, fiddling, gospel, country, rock and roll, jazz, soul, the Sacred Harp, free improv, and more. Most of the readings are first-hand accounts (published and unpublished memoirs, oral histories, and interviews), but I’ve also got archival news clippings and there’s plenty of contemporary analysis and journalism to draw from, too. The book would cover, as best any one volume could, the full sweep of Alabama music, up to and including the wave of current successes—St. Paul, the Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, the Alabama Shakes—that have brought our state so much good attention of late.
The more I think about this, the more I want to see it through. What do you say: anybody out there want to read this?