Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction

By Euan Hague; Edward H. Sebesta et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie:
Neo-Confederacy in Music

JON BOHLAND AND BRIAN TONGIER

In the essay "Jimmie Davis and his Music," Grady McWhiney, one of the central theorists of neo-Confederacy and founders of the League of the South (LS), and his co-author Gary B. Mills detail the life and times of the Southern folk artist and author of the well-known American ballad "You are my Sunshine."1 Davis, who served two terms as governor of Louisiana, during which he fought strenuously to resist desegregation, is, for McWhiney and Mills, "America's most versatile and enduring singer and song writer "and" … lucky enough to have been born one of the Southern plain folk," namely a white Southerner. Following typical neo-Confederate arguments regarding the supposed connection between white Southern and Celtic cultural identities, McWhiney and Mills state that Davis "has written and sung the kinds of song that they "Southern plain folk" appreciate—songs close to and derived from their Celtic tradition."2

McWhiney and Mills's assessment of Jimmie Davis and his musical connection to the culture of the American South highlights the critical role music plays in the construction and imagination of this region as somewhere fundamentally different from elsewhere in the United States. Alongside Confederate fags, music is thus a key marker through which proponents of neoConfederacy represent their Southern identity and, as outlined above, its status as a supposedly Celtic ethnicity.

Cultural geographers have demonstrated the multiple ways in which music serves to construct and reinforce the meanings of particular places.3 As John Connell and Chris Gibson argue, music is "linked to particular geographic sites, bound up in our everyday perception of place, and part of movements of people, products, and cultures across space."4 Often replete with landscape imagery and discussions of everyday life in a particular location, certain styles

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