Dixie Lullaby

A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South

Title Details

Pages: 328

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/25/2006

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2872-0

List Price: $26.95

Dixie Lullaby

A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South

Skip to

  • Description
  • Reviews

In Dixie Lullaby, a veteran music journalist ponders the transformative effects of rock and roll on the generation of white southerners who came of age in the 1970s-the heyday of disco, Jimmy Carter, and Saturday Night Live. Growing up in North Carolina, Mark Kemp burned with shame and anger at the attitudes of many white southerners-some in his own family-toward the recently won victories of the civil rights movement. "I loved the land that surrounded me but hated the history that haunted that land," he writes.

Then the down-home, bluesy rock of the Deep South began taking the nation by storm, and Kemp had a new way of relating to the region that allowed him to see beyond its legacy of racism and stereotypes of backwardness. Although Kemp would always struggle with an ambivalence familiar to many white southerners, the seeds of redemption were planted in adolescence when he first heard Duane Allman and Ronnie Van Zant pour their feelings into their songs.

In the tradition of Nick Tosches, Peter Guralnick, and other music historians, Kemp maps his own southern odyssey onto the stories of such iconic bands as the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and R.E.M., as well as influential indies like the Drive-By Truckers. In dozens of interviews with quintessential southern rockers and some of their most diehard fans, Kemp charts the course of the music that both liberated him and united him with countless others who came of age under its spell. This is a thought-provoking, searingly intimate, and utterly original journey through the South and its music from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Kemp's anecdotal and affectionate remembrance of southern rock provides a solid panoramic view of an important chapter in the history of rock and roll.

Publishers Weekly

A cathartic treatise on the author's life in and with the music of his formative and adult years and the musicians who brought it to him. . . . For anyone who digs the music but never gave the politics a fleeting thought, this book is a must. It will open your eyes and your mind, whether you're white or black, a southerner or a recent immigrant to this land of paradoxes.

Jackson Free Press

When cultural suppression transforms into cultural embrace, with music the vehicle, it's a beautiful thing, and music critic Kemp drives home the impact on southern music in turning an entire nation's head. . . . Kemp's grace and insight into a complex cultural scenario forms a combination that's hard to beat.

Kirkus Reviews

Kemp levels the playing field with his steadfast honesty and seamless pairing of first-person recollection and a thorough sense of the music's historical context. He recognizes the contributions of those southern rockers who gave his peers the chance to see new horizons without idolizing them. . . . It's a complex, iconoclastic analysis in which the stereotypically biased brutes, miscreants and hoodlums of the musical South become contradictory disciples responsible, in large part, for giving rise to a new breed of southern youth.

Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.)

As a child of the South and the '60s, I know in my heart that Kemp has told the truth about what growing up here and loving music was like. But you don't have to be a southerner to get it. Anybody who's listened to rock & roll or voted for the last forty years or so ought to be delighted by this fascinating, well-written, and entertaining new book.

—Larry Brown, author of Faye

Kemp was part of the generation of young white southerners for whom Allman Brothers-style southern rock was not just music, but, as he persuasively argues, a redemptive escape from racism. Dixie Lullaby is a compelling memoir of growing up in the post-civil rights era South from a young man whose life was truly 'saved by rock & roll.'

—Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead

Though surely too much of a southern gentleman to admit it, Kemp is every bit as audacious as the musicians he writes about. The story he tells here encompasses everything that is important about modern life. And he tells it beautifully, the cultural criticism and memoir blended seamlessly. He will make you see the South anew.

—Stephen J. Dubner, author of Turbulent Souls and Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper

Dixie Lullaby is as evocative as the music it celebrates. Kemp, who grew up in North Carolina, instinctively understood that rock and roll, particularly SOUTHERN rock and roll, was his salvation. . . . Music fans should not miss this memoir. Kemp's interviews and insights are worth much more than the price of the book.

Southern Scribe

About the Author/Editor

MARK KEMP, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has served as music editor of Rolling Stone, vice president of music editorial for MTV Networks, and editor of the Charlotte edition of the alternative weekly Creative Loafing. In 1997 he received a Grammy nomination for his liner notes to the album Farewells and Fantasies, a retrospective of music by 1960s protest singer Phil Ochs.