If you could create a handbook on how to have a conversation from here, post-Ferguson, to strengthen the relationship between the community and the police, what would it look like? Where do you start? Here’s what he said.
I floated on my back in a saltwater pool in my favorite Nordstrom dress. My friend Harvey and I had spent the afternoon at a friend’s house taking pictures for the album. The house and pool sat on the highest point of the property, a country estate in Davidson County with a long gravel driveway and landscaped gardens—265 miles east of the Great Dismal Swamp.
In 1913, the Great Dismal Swamp saw the grand opening of the James Adams Floating Theater. It was one of the last active showboats in America, a tradition born in the southern United States where rivers, not railroads, brought the goods to town. Founded by a circus aerialist, the theater company and crew inspired the great American novel—“Showboat.” The novel inspired the musical and the epic ballad, “Ol’ Man River.”
The Stax recording method—one that defined the southern and country soul sound of the 60s—put an emphasis on the players, not production tricks. Put the right people in the room, mic the instruments right and let the soul, Holy Ghost, whatever you want to call it, take over. To the session, I brought seltzer and snacks and four orderly folders full of lyrics. We rehearsed Friday night, recorded Saturday and tweaked vocals and overdubs Sunday afternoon.
I am a faithful woman. My introspective nature requires that I have a Higher Power. Without it, I can easily slip into a hopelessness stronger than a riptide on the Outer Banks. And I pray. Rarely with folded hands. Often with a clutched fist. Mostly on my knees.
I needed a story that didn’t suck. I wanted a “Modern Love” approach to those old fairy tales. I wanted the Lady of the Lake in the Great Dismal to get a new legend. I wanted the girl on the glass hill to get down.
The story goes, that once there was a man so mean and so ornery, that when he died and went to hell the devil said, “No. You’re not staying here.” He gave him a piece of coal and told him to go make his own hell. He made the Great Dismal Swamp. And if hell was created by an outcast of heaven, then what force of nature is created by an outcast of that God-forsaken place?