Updated: May 1, 2021
One of the things we hope to achieve in “The Lowdown” is to familiarize you with the stories behind some of the songs on “Delta Tales.” From time-to-time, John will share some of his stories, as he does in this “Lowdown” post.
According to John Blangero: Throughout 2021, I will (for the song buffs among us} shed light on the development of my “Delta Tales” songs, as well as preview new songs for the as-yet-untitled second album. I thought I would start with, Beneath the Southern Sun,” as recently featured in The Hot List section of Classic Rock Magazine.
Beneath the Southern Sun was a late entry to Delta Tales. It wasn't until December 2019, just before recording sessions for the album began, that I finally put it together. I say "put it together" because it was put together; not composed, per se. The song had an interesting genesis. The first part was taken from a song I wrote for my prog rock band, Harlequin Reborn. It was to be part of a longer neo-symphonic piece called The Secret of Secrets, which I had shelved for other reasons.
I loved the piano line from the hook of that song, so I built on it to develop the lyrical concept and musical foundation of Beneath the Southern Sun. The lyric is a look back into regional history, family history - the burden and sorrow of history. My favorite line is "In the morning light, the planter walks in fields late sown, as we wait for harvest day, Is it today?"
The second part (the Hezekiah section) came from a song I wrote while preparing for the Delta Tales album and had played live in my piano duo with the late great Unka Tom Dyer. That song was titled Hezekiah Saw the Devil. But It was missing something; it wasn’t a complete song. From out of the blue came the idea to put the two together. As I struggled to make them fit, I hit upon the introductory musical section, retuning later to form the transition between the two main themes.
The name Hezekiah comes from my mother's family side and I was always intrigued by such a wonderful Biblical name. That side of the family also had multiple members who were part of the southern diaspora to the north and western parts of the country that often did not fare well. Hence, the woeful tale of Hezekiah who ends life far from his birthplace and the comfort of kith and kin but is returned to southern soil to rest eternally.
Finally, I needed something special between the two main song sections. A key modulation featuring an incredible, searing guitar solo by the superb Steve Schuffert (who also happens to be a cousin on my maternal side) did the trick.
When Ace Acker, my producer, first heard my demo he said, "This track is smokin' hot!" "Southern Sun" and each of the eleven songs on Delta Tales greatly benefited from a tremendous mix by Brian Foraker.
I hope you enjoyed John's story. I did! May the sun rise always over you...with love from Karyn. Please join our Sun King Rising crew. Add your name and email in the form below.