Following on from Kimberly Bright’s decision to slow down the American state hopping and spend a little more time in Mississippi and in particular the city that is Biloxi I’ve decided to pull the handbrake completely, stay put for awhile and explore this former French colonial settlement but this time with the help of M.C. Taylor, better known as Hiss Golden Messenger and his take on, ‘Biloxi’, from his 2016 album ‘Heart Like A Levee’.
Biloxi was first settled in 1720 by French Colonists but by the middle of the century would fall, first to the British, then coming under Spanish rule until 1811 when the U.S. would take control becoming part of the union in 1817. Despite the changes the French character would remain as It grew and prospered for the next two hundred years becoming the state’s third largest city before the devastation wreaked by hurricane Katrina, and the fatality of 53 of it’s residents, would drive many of its population away never to return. Today a memorial created by local artists stands in the city as a constant reminder and tribute to those who lost their lives.
‘Biloxi’, is the album opener for the 2016 critically acclaimed, ‘Heart Like A Levee’, and finds Taylor reckoning and wrestling with the obligation and guilt that comes with being an absent parent and provider caused by endless touring as he surveys the scene of his eldest child’s birthday party. The narrative however is never maudlin but rather shows a maturity that recognises that adulthood is neither a journey or a destination but rather a constant stream of choices and responsibilities. Musical support comes from the two Cook’s, Phil and Brad, whilst Matt McCaughan’s drums propel the song along to a joyous beat that lies somewhat at odds with the lyrical ambience, as the tension from the high pitched acoustic guitar helps to create the feeling of desperation as he unleashes the rhetorical questions, “Will you grieve me honey?” and, “Did I give you a reason to try?”