Saturday, September 8, 2012

Story Songs: Don't It Make You Want to Go Home?

Joe South's was one of the more socially conscious singer-songwriters of the 1960s. He wrote classics such as "Games People Play," "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," and one of my favorites, "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home?"

South, whose real name was Joe Souter, was born and raised in Georgia. In addition to be a singer, he also was a session guitarist and wrote hit songs for folks such as Billy Joe Royal ("Down in the Boondocks"), Deep Purple ("Hush"), The Raiders ("Birds of  a Feather") and his biggest hit of all, for Lynn Anderson, "Rose Garden" in 1971.

"Don't It Make You Want to Go Home?" was an environmental song before environmental tunes became popular. He writes about returning to his hometown:

"Oh, the whippoorwill roosts on the telephone poles
And the Georgia sun goes down
Well, it's been a long time
But I'm glad to say that I'm
Going back to my hometown"

But things have changed dramatically since he was last there; it's not the same place:

"But there's a six-lane highway down by the creek
Where I went skinny dippin' as a child
And the drive-in show where the meadow used to grow
And the strawberries used to grow wild
There's a drag strip down by the riverside where my grandma's cow used to graze
Now the grass don't grow and the river don't flow like it did in my childhood days."

I know when I've traveled to places I lived years ago that things have changed. Yes, there's been some progress. But not all progress is good, especially when it takes a toll on the environment. Any thoughts?

South won a Grammy Award in 1969 for "Games People Play."

South passed away Sept. 5, 2012, from an apparent heart attack. He was 72. RIP.

"Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" lyrics


  1. What a fitting song for me as I just went back to my hometown after approx 6 or 7 years away and found there to be too many changes. Those things that I had once known are all gone now. And they call it progress. Reminds me of that saying by Begley, "when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress." Thanks Michael

  2. Good point, Socorro. I know I'm often saddened when I go back to my old stomping grounds because things have changed so much. I believe some citizens are more aware of preserving nature and the environment but we need more activism in that area.