by Lana Austin —

Aretha, who needs no last name,

called their playing greasy. Not

something slithering


across a skillet, but the very

fluid of life. Slick, sensuous, love-

making wetness. Primordially


pure rhythm, a pulse, a new

song from a bunch of white boys

born by the Tennessee River


where Bono says, “The music

comes out of the mud,” and people

like Paul Simon called producer


Al Bell, asking him, “Hey, man, I want

those same black players

that played on ‘I’ll Take You There.’”


Bell, who wrote the 1972

Staple Singers hit, replied,

“That can happen, except these guys


are mighty pale.” So the mighty pale

Swampers—Barry, David, Roger

and Jimmy– played greasy and grew


the Muscle Shoals sound along with Rick Hall, that crazy-

like-a-fox white producer in Alabama.

Rick and the Swampers created


their own sound in that booth

booth–not black, not white, but greasy,

color-blind and throbbing and they all came


to sing with them, not just Aretha,

but Percy Sledge, Etta James, the Stones,

Arthur Alexander, Wilson Pickett and on and


on with the list of greats

growing almost as long

as the story of life itself.

Lana AustinLana Austin was a finalist for the 2015 James Wright Poetry Award.  Her work has recently been featured in or is forthcoming from Mid-American Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Southern Women’s Review, among others. Her first poetry chapbook, In Search of the Wild Dulcimer, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Austin has received multiple poetry awards & scholarships from Hollins University, The University of Mary Washington & American University & has an MFA from George Mason University. Born & raised in Kentucky, she has lived in England & Italy but currently resides in Alabama with her husband & three children. An adjunct writing instructor, she teaches multiple writing courses & is about to begin directing the first Opera In the Schools program in Huntsville in 2016, culminating in original operas being written & performed by area students.