Listen: Birds Of A Feather / Joe South
Turns out my tastes were always partial toward Joe South.
WNDR was playing ‘Birds Of A Feather’ upon release, and my then close friend/next door neighbor had bought a copy. The record became a regular after school spin for ages. We’d load up on candy and chips, sodas, then converge on his parent’s house from about 3 to 5pm daily. The place became a juvenile hangout for our clique, basically young aspiring record fanatics searching for their first high. Seriously, we’d mix Coca-Cola and aspirin with drips of alcohol from his parents liquor cabinet trying hard for a buzz, always to no avail. We couldn’t risk his folks noticing the slowly depleting bottles, hence the required rationing. Certain singles, like Joe South’s, made up our soundtrack.
Joe South, in hindsight, had also written Billy Joe Royal’s ‘Down In The Boondocks’, a very early memory from winter ’65. Great song, and personally an easy one to identify with. Being banished to small town upstate New York, pining to live in a big, big city full of deeply stocked record stores was my apparent fate. A little boy presumably sentenced to life in said boondocks.
I would argue that Joe South’s songs and especially his singles collectively inspired many an Americana music band, not only US but also British. The Flying Burrito Brothers and Sea Train from here or Brinsley Schwarz and Heads, Hands & Feet from there come to mind. It’s my instinct at least. Joe South seems to be the one guy forever overlooked when the media instead busies itself siting Johnny Cash, Hank Williams or The Band as the catalysts.