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Sunday, September 4, 2005

Top 100 Southern songs?

Some songs with Middle Georgia ties and other roots from the Warrenton area made the The Journal-Constitution's ranking of the Top 100 Songs of the South of all time.

Statesboro Blues, the signature tune of Blind Willie McTell, the great bluesman from Thomson, ranked at No. 53. The band who did the most famous cover version of Statesboro Blues, the Allman Brothers, who recorded in Macon, did quite well, too; Ramblin' Man made it to No. 15 and Blue Sky at No. 66.

Also from Macon, Otis Redding is at No. 16 with (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay. Did you know that comedian and Ph.D. Bertice Berry says her mother told her she was Otis' illegitimate daughter? Really. I read it in Dr. Berry's autobiography.

Another interesting fact: Otis Redding and my grandmother were born in the same town, Dawson, Ga., in Terrell County.

One more: My mother and her teenybopper friends at the Woman's College of Georgia in the late 1960s were all huge fans of Otis Redding. One of Mom's college friends got a summer job at a Macon department store, and one day Otis came in to buy a tricycle for his little boy. The girl fainted. At leat that's what Mom said.

Turning toward Athens, the B-52s landed Love Shack at 22 (three words: Tin roof rusted). And Maps and Legends at No. 99 was the only item I saw on the list by R.E.M., though I may not have looked carefully enough.

You'll need Macromedia Flash software on your computer (it's free, you just have to download it) to see the whole list, for which I'm having a devil of a time trying to find the permanent link. Until then, go this link to the AJC blog discussion of the top 100, where tempers are clearly flaring.

For the record, the list was topped by Billie Holiday's rendition of Strange Fruit. Jimmie Rodgers, the singin' brakeman, who was idolized by my late guitar-picking Warrenton granddad, was at No. 35 with his seminal Blue Yodel No. 1, largely known to the public as T for Texas. And two of my late mother's favorites were Georgia on My Mind at No. 9 and Midnight Train to Georgia at No. 17. If I didn't have my fingers on the keyboard, I'd be doing the appropriate Pips arm motions right now.

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