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The Spring Issue investigates the gothic essence of the South in new ways with exciting short fiction, literary and musical criticism, and a curated collection of fine art.


“The earliest recorded music, now over a century old, will never be truly understood by modern audiences,” Dom Flemons writes in our Tennessee music issue, after he’s exhausted all angles in pursuit of the meanings and motivations behind Gus Cannon’s “Can You Blame the Colored Man,” recorded in 1927. Flemons’s essay is a probing, revelatory biography of song, and it covers an indispensible chapter in our narrative of Tennessee: the string band music made in Memphis around the turn of the last century.

Since Dom spent so much time researching the song, we asked him if he wouldn’t mind recording his own version for us. Here is Dom Flemons performing Gus Cannon’s “Can You Blame the Colored Man.”

Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons is a multi-instumentalist and founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. He has also released three solo albums—Prospect Hill; Dance Tunes, Ballads, and Blues; and American Songster.