Oxford American Twelfth Annual Music Issue
The two music magazines I used to most anticipate receiving in the mail were No Depression and the Oxford American Annual Southern Music Issue. So, this week, when I received my copy of the Twelfth Annual Southern Music Issue from Oxford American, I had to share it with my friends in the No Depression community, just the way that in 1999 my friend and co-worker Sid handed me my first copy with the words, “You’re going to love this.”
Many of you may know about Oxford American, but for those who do not, it is billed as “The Southern Magazine of Good Writing,” and once a year, it devotes an issue to southern music, including a CD of the music discussed in the magazine. Like No Depression, Oxford American is a quality music magazine that has struggled through the years to stay in business. From my recollection, and from the missing CD in my collection, the magazine’s troubles peaked in 2004 when they stopped publishing for a period.
Now, when I say the magazine and CD focus on “southern music,” I mean a wide variety of the good stuff. In the CDs I have from the annual music issues, the artists included people I already knew – such as Sonny Burgess, Odetta, and the Del McCoury Band – to new discoveries for me – like the Gosdin Brothers recording on this year’s CD. There are occasional strange gems, like on the 2000 CD, there was a recording of Robert Mitchum singing “Leaning” from Night of the Hunter that made me love the song and his voice outside the context of the haunting scene in the movie.
Last year, Oxford American started a new approach with its music issue. Instead of covering a broad geography, the magazine began to focus on one state each year. Last year was Arkansas, and this year’s issue concentrates on Alabama. To be honest, I really liked the previous broader approach, but the state-by-state approach is growing on me. And either way, it is the best magazine-CD out there, and it still covers a wide range of styles and time, with songs from the 1940s through 2010. Additionally, I like that the magazine’s approach has evolved over the years so now there is a feature story about each track on the CD.
Finally, the first track on the CD is a specially recorded Oxford American introduction from Charlie Louvin. I am nobody to tell you to get the magazine, but you should listen if Charlie Louvin endorses the magazine and CD.
P.S. I have no affiliation with the magazine and do not know anyone affiliated with it. I just love the writing and the music. You may order the magazine and back issues from the website, which also has this year’s track listing (under “Further Listening”): http://www.oxfordamerican.org/
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