Book One - Darling Fan and a Further Quintet of Essays
Chapter One – Luke the Drifter and the Secrets of Country
Luke the Drifter and the Birth of Country
It’s widely accepted that singer and songwriter Hank Williams is Country Music’s single most revered figure, and among the most influential popular musicians of the 20th Century.
And as such he incarnated many of the key elements of this most American of arts, having been born poor in the rural South of the United States, for notwithstanding its Canadian and Australian variants, Country is quintessentially the music of the working people of the American South.
These allegedly originally consisting of southern English emigrants from rural East Anglia, Kent and the West Country, who settled largely on the coastal regions, but had reached the Appalachian Mountains by the 18th Century. While Appalachia and the Piedmont were both significantly colonised by Northern English and Lowland Scottish peoples, as well as the Protestant Scots-Irish from Ireland’s Ulster province.
And the great majority of white Southerners continue to be of English and Scots-Irish origin, notwithstanding the sizable amounts of Southerners who don’t share these ancestries. Such as the French Americans of Louisiana for example; and the Irish Americans of South Georgia; as well as the German Americans of the Texas Hill Country and borderland areas of the upland South.
But Hank Williams was of English-American ancestry, like so many of those who bequeathed the South its distinctive culture, which includes its famous conservatism and patriotism, themselves the result of deep-rooted Christian foundations. And a culture of honour…born perhaps of the clannishness of herders from Western and Northern England, Lowland Scotland and Ireland’s Ulster province…and resultant fiery sense of protectiveness.