Welcome to our very first SFA playlist, inspired by the recent sweets-themed issue of Gravy.
1. “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” (James Taylor)
Originally performed by Marvin Gaye, this version of “How Sweet It Is” (performed by our favorite dreamy, sensitive Tar Heel) hit the top ten in 1975.
2. “Sugar Dumpling” (Sam Cooke)
Is it just us, or is it questionable whether or not Sam is actually singing a song about a woman? Sometimes, sweets make us so happy that we’re tempted to serenade them, too.
3. “Chocolate Jesus” (Tom Waits)
Well, Tom Waits isn’t a Southerner, but can we please claim him as an honorary? Daniel Durcholz of Rolling Stone magazine once described Waits’ voice as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” Sounds pretty Southern to us (minus the car thing. But then again…).
4. “My Sweet Love Ain’t Around” (Hank Williams)
We can probably all identify with this Alabaman’s blues when his sweet love ain’t around.
5. “Blueberry Hill” (Louis Armstrong)
Armstrong’s thrill on blueberry hill brings to mind this Gravy’s piece, “On Honeysuckle and Going Home,” by Marie Stitt. Just as the moon stands still on blueberry hill, for Marie, “the memories I’ll always carry with me are the ones that transport me home.”
6. “Tutti Frutti” (Little Richard)
Doesn’t this just make you want to dance?
7. “Drinkin’ Wine Spo Dee O Dee” (Stick McGhee)
While the recording we have on this playlist is playfully mischieveous, the lyrics have nothing on the original version that Stick sang during WWII:
Drinkin’ that mess is our delight, And when we get drunk, start fightin’ all night. Knockin’ out windows and learnin’ down doors, Drinkin’ half-gallons and callin’ for more. Drinkin’ wine mother******, drinkin’ wine! God****! Pass that bottle to me!
8. “Peaches” (R.L. Burnside)
Despite the strong association of the blues to the Mississippi Delta, Burnside hails from Holly Springs, 30 miles southeast of Memphis. In particular, his drone-based style is what distinguishes him as a North Mississippi Hill Country bluesman.
9. “Sugar Rum Cherry” (Duke Ellington)
Here at SFAWHQ, we were ecstatic to stumble upon this jazzy rendition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. What a throwback to childhood.
10. “Sweet” (Thamusemeant)
Aimee Curl’s voice makes this Virginia group stand out. Not to mention their crazy-good skills on the fiddle and mandolin.
11. “Candyfloss” (Wilco)
Okay, okay. Wilco might not be Southern, but who doesn’t like them? Summerteeth-era Jeff Tweedy is the master of the nervous-breakdown lyric layered over an infectious melody.
12. “Orange Crush” (REM)
Michael Stipe and co. were building a cult following from their home base of Athens, GA, right around the time our own John T. Edge was a bright-eyed young college student at UGA.
13. “Sugarbowl” (Kelly Hogan)
You may know Kelly Hogan’s voice without knowing her name—for years, she’s sung back-up vocals for Neko Case. Oxford writer and friend of the SFA Jack Pendarvis turned us on to Hogan’s solo work, and we’re hooked.
14. “Hey Ya!” (Outkast)
What’s cooler than being cool? ICE COLD! We had to include this one for the line, “Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor!” (Has it been a decade already? We’re still not sick of this party staple.)
15. “Apple Blossom” (The White Stripes)
The White Stripes are from Detroit. But, it being the year of the woman and all, we thought it’d be cool to point out that Jack White’s pre-married surname was Gillis. Upon marrying Megan Martha White, he took her last name.
16. “Sweet Potato Pie” (Ray Charles)
Ray Charles. What a character. What an awesome song.
17. “Country Pie” (Bob Dylan)
Dylan’s singular voice has a slightly different twang on Nashville Skyline—and it’s up there with our favorite of his studio albums.
18. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” (The Four Tops)
We couldn’t help ourselves—it’s not a sweet playlist without this classic.
19. “Sweet Potato Blues” (Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three)
Based in St. Louis, this talented young group has got it going on. They even dress to impress. Nothing about their style is fake, though.
20. “Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine” (Carolina Chocolate Drops)
No, this is not a cover of G. Love’s “Baby’s Got Sauce.” It’s got a nice little banjo riff and an old-school vibe—there’s even a kazoo solo. Trust us, it’s awesome.