This last year I’ve been living in upstate New York, and the people have been great. Delightful students at Skidmore College, for one. But now, largely thanks to Lucas Morel , author of one of our better books on Lincoln, I’m returning to what’s become my home away from home, the so-beautiful-you-might-fight-a-hopeless-war-for-it state of Virginia! Previous years I’ve lived in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and now it’ll be Lexington, where I’ll be teaching a year at Washington and Lee University.

So it’s time for a few songs, and not rock ones. The best version of “I’m Comin’ Virginia” I know of is by Jimmy Rushing, but not every moment of human existence is available on you tube yet. The other good vocal version is a very early Bing Cosby 78, but I’ll give you the wordless Benny Carter/Django Rheinhardt version instead.

My favorite so-glad-to-be-returning-to-the-South song is not “Sweet Home Alabama,” a great but overplayed icon, but Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter.” Yup, I know that feeling will even hit Californian Yankee me as we hit the Mason-Dixon, even without being on a train.  (Cash had the class to sing so many songs about trains, that they made a whole album of them!)

Other good return-to-the-South songs out there?

Or, what really was the dust up with Neil Young that elicited “Sweet Home Alabama’s” rebuke? I’ve never understood why LS sings Watergate, it doesn’t bother me .

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