Lots of magazines come with free CDs. Some are actually worth listening to. A few are great. But for ten years now, the CDs one magazine’s been putting out have been consistently awesome.
This year, the 10th-anniversary edition of the Oxford American’s Southern Music Issue comes with two fantastic CDs: one featuring 28 tracks culled from previous volumes, the other 27 new picks. They cover the spectrum of Southern song, from gospel (the Staple Singers’ “Going Away”) to classic jazz (Jack Teagarden’s “Sweet and Hot”) to Southern soul (Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter [Comes Tears]”) to Americana (Lucinda Williams’s “Something About What Happens When We Talk”). Two of the lost classics — Erma Franklin’s cover of her sister Aretha’s “Baby I Love You” and Arthur Lee’s ultra-obscure “Everybody’s Gotta Live” — are special standouts. The accompanying essays are uniformly excellent, and the newsstand price (which works out to 17 cents a track) is almost too much to ask for. If you’re looking for a down-to-earth way to celebrate the week’s events, keep these songs — which reflect America’s deepest fissures as well as the lengths we’ve gone to in overcoming them — in mind.
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