April 30th, 2011

Nothing quite starts a day like Leitch RT’ing Hollinger talking about how the Flaming Lips are for real part of the New OKC’s identity. It’s true—when I lunched with Mayor Mick, he talked a lot about how important that was to the kind of city they wanted to be, and also how tight him and Wayne Coyne are.

If you really want a music war to pop off between Memphis and Oklahoma City, there’s going to be hell to pay. Memphis, in case you didn’t know, is arguably the most musically important city this side of New York. You know about Sun Records and B.B. King’s Beale Street, Stax, and Hi (Al Green and beyond), all of which are civic institutions there—albeit some in sarcophagal form. Anyone reading this is likely also up on 8Ball and MJG and the entire Hypnotize Minds camp (I always forget that Frayser Boy has an Oscar). But scratch the surface just barely, and you get Sleepy John Estes, Big Star, the Replacements at Ardent, and nearby soul outposts Fame and Muscle Shoals. Jay Reatard (RIP), River City Tanlines, I posted a Scruffs song because, well, they’re from Memphis and can go toe-to-toe with any more famous act. Dan Penn’s "Raining in Memphis" guts “Walkin’ in Memphis” any day of the week.

But let’s not totally sell OKC short. It’s long been a place that people were from, not one people stayed at. Still, giants like Charlie Christian and Don Cherry, were the jazz-saturated Deep Deuce neighborhood, once the regional hub for black culture in the Southwest. Ralph Ellison wrote about those formative experiences. There’s a street named after Wanda Jackson, a lifelong native. COLOR ME BADD IS FROM OKLAHOMA CITY. Toby Keith has a restaurant there. Sam Rivers is from El Reno, which falls within the metropolitan area for census purposes. Also, the Dust Bowl did kind of trigger a huge migration to California, which is why Merle Haggard’s birth certificate says nothing about the state forever associated with him. Who knows how this match-up might go, if history had not been so cruel?

Regardless, I have to give this to Memphis in a landslide. And, out of personal bias, OKC produced no James Carr or O.V. Wright. That right there decides it for me. Please offer your input and corrections however this medium encourages such activity. And no, the Thunder cannot claim all of Seattle’s past musical achievement. I would say the same thing about the Grizz and Vancouver, but I think they’re just fine without Destroyer.