June Tabor and the Oysterband: Mississippi Summer
The original recording of this tune from American folksinger Si Khan drips with social justice and the sweat of the fieldhand. But in the hands of British folk superstars June Tabor and the punk-slash-tradfolk combo Oyster Band, who came together in 1990 for the fine collaborative effort Freedom and Rain, the tune takes on a traditional UK folk rock vibe, upbeat and driven.
The conceit seems anomalous, at first - what could a British folk tradition know of the desperation of the Southern-bred dust field farmer? That the song works is a testament to the successful tradition of historical distance between the pastoral, pre-technological lyrics and the modern electrified bass, guitar, and drums that frames the British folk rock genre. Seems the combination of old world and new can just as easily transcend space as time. And so goes a bone-dry Mississippi summer, far, far from its native fields.
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