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Skippin’ in the Mississippi Dew

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The Mississippi River holds a prominent, mythic place in the American psyche. Dating back to its days as part of France’s territory in the new world, the Mississippi has been a place where cultures commingled; where trappers and Indians traded pelts; where shipping fortunes were made; and where frontier forts were built. Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition left for the interior from the shores of that great River. And later, some of the country’s largest and most brutal plantations sprung up along its banks. Steamships, casinos, showboats, houseboats, and of course, rafts, all float in and out of our mythic notion of what it means to be American, a notion forever tied to the Big Muddy.

Writers have long spoken of our rich river tradition. Alexis de Tocqueville, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck all wrote about Americans’ connection to their river. William Faulkner even likened the Mississippi to an long umbilical chord connecting us to our homeland and to one another.

And then there’s the music.

It’s called Mississippi Delta Blues for a reason. Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, B.B. King are only a few of the greats who grew up just miles from the muddy riverbanks. Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan were also raised near the great river. Dylan’s home town of Hibbing, Minnesota is only a stones throw away from the Mississippi’s oft-disputed source. Not to mention all the music that came out of the strange commingling of cultures in New Orleans as a result of the city’s unique location at the Mississippi’s mouth.

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Written by JustJake

April 8, 2008 at 8:12 am