Last month someone I greatly admired passed away. I was a good friend of his uncle, Frank, many years ago in Atlanta, though he was considerably older than I was. Joe South was one of the great singer-songwriters of his era. He wrote music recorded by everybody from Billy Joe Royal and Brook Benton to Jim Nabors and Gene Vincent, the Osmonds and Carol Burnett in pop and Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Lynn Anderson and Lorretta Lynn in country. He was nominated for two Grammys and inducted into the Nashville Songwrtier’s Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1981.
Among his songs were Royal’s Down in the Boondocks, and Lynn’s Rose Garden. His own recordings included Games People Play and Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home? (my personal favorite at the time).
He played guitar on such records as Tommy Roe’s Sheila, Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album.
He was born Joseph Alfred Souder on February 28, 1940 in Atlanta, and last month, on September 5, 2012, passed away in Buford, GA. I was even unaware at the time, because there was no media blitz.
I, for one, will miss him.
For the past several weeks we had been in a severe drought and our lawn looked like death warmed over. Rhonda had said we needed to learn to do a rain dance. The first of the week I told her I had prayed for rain and it hadn’t yet come. I didn’t understand it because even the Bible says “It rains on the just and on the unjust.” The next day, Monday, the silvery drops started coming down. It rained the most of three days, then off-and on the rest of the week. The yard woke up as if to say, ‘”I’m alive!” I couldn’t help thinking of the classic song originally made popular by the Cascades, “Rhythm of the Rain.” But it was John Claude Gummoe who wrote it. And Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Cring in the Rain”–that came from the magical pen of Fred Rose. What about Elvis’ “Kentucky Rain”? That was Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard.
Which brings me around to this point. The other night Rhonda and I re-watched an old episode of Cold Case…the one where “Truck Sugar” played by Larry Bagley, sang “Thanking My Lucky Stars.” That ought to have been up for an award of some kind, because it is a monster song. But the genius behind that one is Texas singer-songwriter Mike Stinson.
The song was even recorded by Johnny Depp. Listen to it on YouTube. There are numerous versions. And if possible, purchase a copy. It blows me away every time I hear it. Songwriters deserve a lot of credit. They “Light up our Lives.”