In 1992, The Black Crowes commissioned Terry Southern–author of Red-Dirt Marijuana, Candy, Blue Movie, The Magic Christian, Easy Rider, The Cincinnati Kid and Barbarella–to write an introduction to the original limited edition of the Crowes’ second album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion lyric book that looked like a worn out bible. I purchased the rare book for $50 at Atlanta’s Wax-N-Fax record store in late 1992.

     In the hymnbook, Terry Southern wrote: “For a long time I’ve been trying to get a tight fix on these Black Crowes, some kind of handle. I mean what the hell’s going on here? Rock and roll, yes, with plenty of R & B, yes. Along with some country and western of the Gram Parsons persuasion; and maybe even an occasional soul bite. All to be expected of course, in a band generally thought of having replaced the Rolling Stones.

     “But there is something else, another and different systemic riff pulsating inside their sound–it is the (almost) inimitable sound of Central Tracks/Funk. It is the sound found where the barbecued chicken and ribs are so hot your eyes water and your face sweats, and you try to cool out the jalapeno with a beer like Black Dallas. It is the sound of Joe Leggins and the Honeydrippers, Lucky Milander, obscure bands like Andy Kirk and his clouds of Joy, and singers like Jimmy Witherspoon and Willie Mayon (rendering “My Big Ten Inch” on the Black Cat Label)–all artists from whom derive the later immortals: Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, James Brown.

     “It is the sound heard in places like the Silhouette and Blue Room in West Dallas or Shreveport, decrepit and rundown places where the lights are blue and there is a half-gallon of Sweet Lucy on the tables; crude- shed like structures but jumping and wailing with a kind of vibrant like whose existence is not even suspected in most quarters.”

     Terry Southern died in 1995 of a heart attack while walking up the steps to the Journalism Department at New York University where he was teaching.


Terry Southern’s Red Dirt Marijuana

Terry Southern’s “Razor Fight”

The Black Crowes Happiness Bastards

Gram Parsons: The Complete Reprise Sessions