Ashland, Alabama—I gave a speech in a little theater. I told stories to warm up the audience before a bluegrass band took the stage.
The band was good. The lead singer was the grandson of Ralph Stanley, and he sounded like it. The boys picked their strings so fast their instruments started melting.
The people in the audience were in good spirits. Thank God for that. Last week, I spoke to a crowd of Presbyterians in Florida. I’ve had conversations with water heaters that went better.
I wish I could tell you how much I love Alabama, but I think I already have. I’ve been writing about this state for a long time. I wrote a novel about it, sang about it, told stories about it, and once I got stuck in Birmingham traffic on a holiday weekend.
I am not from Alabama, I married into it. But I’m glad I did. There are a lot of reasons why I love it.
reason is barbecue. You can get pulled pork anywhere in the state. In Mountain Brook it comes served on fine China with garnishes of parsley. Down in Georgiana, you get it from a utility shed beside a gas station. Tell them Sean sent you.
Alabama football is also important to me. I have been watching the boys in crimson since the day of my birth. Literally.
I was born during the third quarter of a Liberty Bowl. My father held his infant son before a black-and-white TV in the delivery room and introduced him to Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. It was decided that my middle name would be Paul.
The literature from Alabama couldn’t be any better. I don’t care who you are, Kathryn Tucker Windham is queen.
And music, Lord have mercy. William Lee Golden couldn’t be any cooler. Nat “King” Cole had no equals. If…