By a happy accident, I heard about the Drive-By Truckers and their terrific concept album, Southern Rock Opera, right about the time I was doing some serious research into Lester Maddox and the segregationist pushback against civil rights. Rather than Maddox and Georgia, the Drive-Bys focus on Alabama and George Wallace, as well as Bear Bryant, Lynyrd Skynyrd and anything else that embodies “the duality of the Southern thing.” The song above, “Wallace,” imagines the reception the former governor of Alabama received when he shuffled off this mortal coil:
Throw another log on the fire, boys, George Wallace is coming to stay
When he met St. Peter at the pearly gates, I’d like to think that a black man stood in the way.
I know “All should be forgiven”, but he did what he done so well
So throw another log on the fire boys,
George Wallace is a coming…
Now, he said he was the best friend a black man from Alabama ever had,
And I have to admit, compared to Fob James, George Wallace don’t seem that bad
And if it’s true that he wasn’t a racist and he just did all them things for the votes
I guess Hell’s just the place for “kiss ass politicians” who pander to assholes.
So throw another log on the fire, boys, George Wallace is coming to stay
I know, in the end, he got the black people’s votes, but I bet they’d still vote him this way.
And Hell’s just a little bit hotter cuz He played his hand so well
He had what it took to take it so far
Now the Devil’s got a Wallace sticker on the back of his car