Book Note 

Words and music come together beautifully on joint effort from Oxford, Miss.’ Square Books and Thacker Mountain radio show

Words and music come together beautifully on joint effort from Oxford, Miss.’ Square Books and Thacker Mountain radio show

For writers, making an appearance at Square Books in Oxford, Miss., is somewhat akin to being a preacher and making a guest appearance at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Readings take place with the lights dimmed, the podium spotlighted, the phones turned off and the cash registers closed. It’s only right, then, that the Thacker Mountain radio show, a collaboration between the bookstore and some Oxford musicians, would be more than just an hour of authors and artists peddling their wares. It’s a good example of what happens when you cross high art with outsider authenticity—think Prairie Home Companion mixed with the early Grand Ole Opry.

Thacker Mountain recently released a best-of compilation, a two-CD set containing 70 minutes of the written/spoken word packaged alongside another 70 minutes or so of music. The eclecticism of the radio show is kept intact—most weeks the lineup can include anyone from rural realist Larry Brown to Fat Possum recording artist Paul “Wine” Jones. Middle Tennessee is well represented on the CD, with William Gay and Marty Stuart both making appearances. But for all the high-profile names on the disc—novelist Patrick McGrath, the North Mississippi All-Stars—it’s the lesser-known acts who make this disc a keeper. Caroline Herring holds a haunt of Emmylou Harris in her voice, Precious Bryant bears out her title as the first lady of Georgia country blues, and the band Lucero represent Memphis’ music scene admirably.

To order a copy of Thacker Mountain Radio: An Anthology of Words and Music, visit or (which broadcasts the program live every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.); or contact the bookstore directly at (662) 236-2262.

—Lacey Galbraith

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