Life Sounds Better with a Southern Drawl
I went to high school with Lisa Williams Cook. Her father and mine volunteered together in the fire department of the small town where we grew up. While I was a few years ahead of Lisa, we share memories of card games, parties and barbeques where our parents shared recipes and big or bigger fishing tales. Recently, when her daddy turned 80, my family was invited to another party. We gathered around a swimming pool with the logo of our state painted across the bottom. Yes, we were in Ft. Payne, Alabama at Cook Castle, owned by Jeff and Lisa Cook of the country music group Alabama. It was just one small example of just how much better life sounds with a southern drawl.
As I began working on the mission of this website, I kept asking myself who would be the best person to help me get the word out. I reached out to Lisa. Who better to help portray the modern South, than a member of the songwriting group whose lyrics touch the very soul of Dixieland?
I called Lisa. After a recap of the Oregon conversation that started the idea for the website and checking on family members, she and Jeff gathered around the speakerphone and we began the interview.
When you hear outsiders refer to southerners as prejudice, racist or rednecks, what is your reaction?
Lisa answered, “It’s a shame, really. People like that man in Oregon call us prejudice and yet, we are the ones who are stereotyped.” Jeff remembered a similar conversation. “I was in an interview recently that was suppose to be about our new album, ‘Southern Drawl’ and instead of questions about the album, the conversation turned to the Confederate flag. I told them that it [the flag] had always been about history to me. Not hatred.”
What do you love about the South?
Jeff laughed and answered, “The lack of snow, fishin’ and the people.” Lisa added, “Alabama is beautiful. It has some of the prettiest terrain in the South from the mountains in the north to the beaches on the Gulf Coast. And, I love our state parks.”
With your success, Jeff, you two could live anywhere in the world. Why Guntersville, AL? He answered,
“The lakes of Alabama are full of great fishin’, our family traditions and great food.”
Speaking of family traditions, what are some of your favorite southern traditions?
Lisa said, “No matter how many people we have for Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s a lot – 25-30 people sometimes, we always take the time to go around the room sharing what we are grateful for. It is always special.”
What are your some of your favorite southern recipes?
Jeff didn’t have to think for a minute, “Pinto beans and cornbread.” To which Lisa added, “Yea, and Jeff won a cornbread cook-off once in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. Lodge Cast Iron sponsored it. I would love some cornbread baked by Jeff Cook.
Are there any southern sayings that have been passed down in your family?
Lisa answered, “We had a Yankee friend visiting us once and she asked my mama where she had put her purse.” Mama answered that it was ‘over yonder’ and our friend asked, ‘what’s a yonder’? We still laugh at that one.” She added, “And then there’s always the word y’all. I’ve tried to just say you or you guys, but I always feel like I’m leaving someone out. Y’all includes everybody.
Then Lisa asked me, “Kim, do you know what “tumped over” means? “Of course,” I replied. “That’s when something gets turned over.” Jeff laughed and said, “Look up tumped in the dictionary and you’ll find it right beside ain’t.” He added that while on tour, they discovered that “youins” was a Carolina thing. “It means y’all plus 3. And then he added, “Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth,” which of course are the lyrics to their hit, ‘Song of the South’.”
Song, song of the south, sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth.
Gone, gone with the wind, ain’t nobody lookin’ back again.
I looked back again tonight and while there are things about the South that still need improving, there’s not much I would change right now. The ignorance of a shop owner in Oregon who assumed that all southerners are racist and we keep our fire hoses on standby, prompted this website. It will be a lifestyle blog dedicated to portraying the modern South in a positive light. I offer a HUGE thank-you to Lisa and Jeff, who agreed to help me launch this new venture. And if that wasn’t enough, when I asked them where was their favorite southern destination, they both answered, “The Gulf Coast of course, Orange Beach, AL.” That’s not too far from Fairhope, hint, hint!
Here are a few Alabama facts:
The group has been on a 14-year vacation, but returned to the music scene on September 18, 2015 with their new album, “Southern Drawl.” My friend Lisa sings two of the songs on the version that is sold at all Cracker Barrel Restaurants.
The group raised over $2 million in 2011 for a benefit, Bama Rising, to aid in repairing the devastation caused by a super outbreak of tornadoes in Alabama.
August 27th is Jeff’s birthday and every year on the closest Saturday to the 27th, he is honored with Jeff Cook Day in beautiful, Guntersville, AL.
The group has won over 170 awards since 1980, including the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Cook Castle, located atop Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne AL, is a top-rated, event venue. It is conveniently located along I-59 only 45 minutes from Chattanooga, Tenn., 90 minutes from Birmingham, Ala., and 120 minutes from Atlanta, Ga. Visit http://www.cookcastleevents.com/ for more information.
“Southern Drawl” is available in all the traditional outlets, but the albums sold in Cracker Barrell have two bonus songs. This version includes two exclusive songs (“Backwoods Boogie” and “I’ve Got Some Lovin’ “), with backup vocals sung by my friend and his wife, Lisa Williams Cook. Go have supper at Cracker Barrel and pick up a copy.
The fourteen year vacation of Alabama has surely charged the creative battery of this super-country music group. Life absolutely sounds better with their southern drawl.