Where I’m From

19 Nov


There’s not many songs, particularly of the pop or country variety, that I am not at least acquainted with. However, when I first heard Taylor Hicks singing some song about Alabama, my ears perked up from curiosity. It was from one of those “sessions” before AI. After a bit of research, I found out that the song, Where I’m From, was written and performed by Shelby Lynne, who is labeled a Country artist.

Amazingly, I also found out that Shelby grew up in Jackson, AL, just north of Mobile. Her backstory is quite compelling. She grew up with a musical family with her father being a musician and her mother, a music teacher. At 17, her alcoholic father shot and killed her mother and then himself, rendering her and her little sister Allison, to the custody of relatives. After a brief marriage at 18, Shelby set out for Nashville and at 20, ended up recording a duet with Country Music icon George Jones, If I Could Bottle This Up, in 1988.

While success seemed inevitable, Shelby didn’t seem to “catch on” until her breakout album I am Shelby Lynne in 2000. This album, a rebellion from her label over artistic control, ended up winning her a Grammy for “Best New Artist”, although she’d been in the business over 10 years. This CD has a variety of styles and genres, but Where I’m From, is clearly an acoustical country gem.

I love this song and love the instrumentation. Violins and steel guitar. The bridge towards the end kept evoking a familiar tune to me that took me a while to pinpoint, but I finally got it.

Sleep Walk, Santo & Johnny Farino

Back to Where I’m From. When I attended the Taylor Hicks concert in Mobile, back in February, he included his version as an encore.

Taylor butchers the lyrics in several places (as usual), but when I first heard the refrain, I thought it was some kind of pig latin. Once I looked up the lyrics, I recognized it as French, although the lyrics are listed phonetically. Evidently, Shelby Lynne has some Cajun in her somewhere because that refrain is in the French of my ancestors.

Elégamment les bateaux passent en banc, On la flotte avec du vent

Which translates loosely to: “Elegantly the boats pass the bank, They float by with the wind.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that French phrase is not remotely close to what I hear Taylor saying. I give him an A for effort, though, and an A+ for great taste in tunes that kun-NECKS.

This song particularly resonates with me because I live in Alabama and can relate to all Shelby sings about but the French verses are what reels me in. I’m a sucker for my heritage and all that entails, particularly the wonderful Cajun French language that I was raised with. I thought you all might like to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak….so here it is.

Anyway, pay some attention to Shelby. You might recognize her as Carrie Cash (Johnny’s Mother) in Walk the Line. She has rebelled against the music industry a number of times and is currently working on a tribute CD dedicated to Dusty Springfield (produced by Barry Manilow).

I Only Want to Be With You

Her sister is Allison Moorer, a Country artist who had an Alabama song of her own. Allison is married to Steve Earle. (yes, we’re all related somehow down here.)

Alabama Song

and she sings a tune that might be a little familiar:

A Change Gone Come, Allison Moorer

Lastly, here’s another Shelby Lynne song off of the I Am Shelby Lynne CD that is primo.

Your Lies

Shelby’s an original and definitely NOT a one-trick pony. Here’s a recent collaboration with the band Live.

Run Away

These two Alabama ladies are extremely talented.

Shelby Lynne’s MySpace

Allison Moorer Website




Posted by on November 19, 2007 in acoustic, Country, music chicks, taylor hicks


11 responses to “Where I’m From

  1. jenfera

    November 20, 2007 at 9:44 am

    I like the duet with Live. The rest still has a twang factor going on, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on with Your Lies. Does that video have really poor sound quality, or is that what that song really sounds like?

  2. music maven

    November 20, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Maybe we’ve got a generational gap as I like the 50-ish sounds and the newer stuff, like the Live duet, is “meh” to me. I stand by the “primo-ness” of Your Lies.

    Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer really aren’t hard-core Country, more like Easy Listening. I think there’s some twang generalization going on.

    Sleep Walk is NOT a Country tune. Perhaps it’s the steel or slide guitar that you don’t like. I happen to adore it, particularly Robert Randolph and he’s certainly not twang.

    The March – Robert Randolph


  3. jenfera

    November 20, 2007 at 10:57 am

    That is correct – as a rule, I am not a fan of the steel guitar. Mr. Randolph happens to know how to play the thing without it sounding so twangy. Sounds more like a regular guitar.

    Sleep Walk to me is the epitome of the easiest of easy listening. The kind you see in those compilation album commercials aimed at the elderly.

    My issue with Your Lies is not overt twangyness, but it sounds like it is in a tunnel and her voice sounds like it is in opposition to the music in some parts. Sort of like that new Amy Winehouse song – Tears Dry On Their Own. It’s a jumbled up jazz sound that I have yet to develop an appreciation for.

  4. Colette

    November 20, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    I’m fond of Allison Moorer, in particular, but I was a little disappointed when I saw her this summer and every song was kinda the same.

    Back to “Angel from Montgomery”: whatever your politics are, I was delighted to find this performance (yesterday!) of MM’s favorite song (and one of mine) by Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt at a rally for John Edwards in Iowa:

  5. shrewspeaks

    November 20, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Twang or no twang brace yourselves…I LOVE SHELBY LYNN I bought her cd in 2000 when I heard her song on the Bridget Jones soundtrack. I must admit the more “twangy pieces” I do bypass. But I do like this gal.

    PS-LOVE the Levaquin!

  6. music maven

    November 20, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    That would be Killin’ Kind.

    Definitely not country. Nope. Nary a twang to be heard.

  7. music maven

    November 20, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Colette — While I loveAFM, I can’t understand why this would “fit” at an Edwards rally? Quite a somber tune for an event that’s supposed to make people fired up to vote for ya, no?

    Jackson Browne does rawk.

  8. colette

    November 20, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    I think the idea is that Edwards is the candidate who speaks a lot about the disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and “Angel” really captures without sentimentality the crushed dreams of a woman’s hard life.

    Yeah, it’s not exctly a “get on up and vote” rouser! But I just adore hearing Bonnie sing it…..Anybody know if she and Jackson are still an “item”? (I sound like a gossip columnist…..)

  9. T

    April 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for getting the french lyrics right. I heard Shelby last night in Toronto, and couldn’t make out what the lyrics were, not counting on her to sing in a second language. Vive la langue francais!

  10. stikman

    December 15, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Damn, your post here was 9 years ago, but I’ve waxing nostalgic all morning after after a lengthy talk talk with my first ex. I’ve saved page to enjoy again and again. And yes “where I’m from” hits me hard being from Mobile, French heritage, jubilees, and the video bridge during blessing of the shrimp fleet.
    Bon Chance!

    • stikman

      December 15, 2016 at 10:38 am

      video bridge? damn auto correct! I meant Coden Bridge, Bayou la Batre. It used to be a draw bridge.


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