My song today is ‘Southern Nights’. This song was written and recorded by Allen Toussaint, from his 1975 album, ‘Southern Nights’. It was later recorded by American country singer Glen Campbell. It reached Number 1 on three separate US charts.
The lyrics of ‘Southern Nights’ were inspired by childhood memories that Allen Toussaint had of visiting relatives in the Louisiana backwoods, which often entailed storytelling under star-filled night-time skies. When Campbell heard Toussaint's version, he immediately identified with the lyrics which reminded him of his own youth growing up on an Arkansas farm. In October 1976, Campbell recorded the song with slightly modified lyrics.
Although I lived in Canada and travelled around some of the U.S.A during 1964/65, I never managed to get to the southern shores. I would often hear about the humidity and unbearable heat of southern summer nights from people who either had lived or currently lived in South America when they stayed at the hotel where I worked in upper Toronto, Canada.
More than once, I was told that it got so hot during the summer nights that people in the southern states always slept naked and would sometimes run around outside naked to cool off. I was even told about the ‘flappers’ down in Louisiana. These were women of the 1960s from Louisiana who had reached that stage of life where women are invariably plagued with hot flushes. I was told that the ‘flappers’ could be often seen by prying neighbours at their back door. The ‘flappers’ would be wearing a loose dress and no underwear and using their hands like the wings of a waddling penguin in a flapping movement of their dresses. Whereas the penguins of the Antarctic would flap their wings vigorously in the bitter cold of their winters to keep warm, the flappers of South Carolina and Louisiana would flap their loose dresses back and forth with both hands wafting to bring cool refreshing air up towards their female undercarriage region.
Initially, when I was told this story, I was not sure how exaggerated it was being relayed to me, but after hearing numerous accounts of a similar nature I became more persuaded as to its veracity. I recently looked up the definition of ‘flapper’ when I was doing this morning’s post and here it is:
“Flappers of the 1920s were young women known for their energetic freedom, embracing a lifestyle viewed by many at the time as outrageous, immoral, or downright dangerous. Now considered the first generation of independent American women, ‘flappers’ pushed barriers in economic, political and sexual freedom for women”.
Given that definition of the term, my original belief is strengthened considerably. I suppose if ‘flappers’ of the 1920s were prone to engage in outrageous, immoral, and downright dangerous practices, then fanning their undercarriages at their backdoors in the hot heat of twilight seems like pretty small beer to me.
Love and peace