Where Soil and Song Work In Harmony: S.G. Goodman

As a lifelong Southerner, and a mostly small-town Southerner all these years, I can understand when people want to get out of their small, Southern town in favor of a city with more people of like minds. And as that mostly happy small-town Southerner, I can understand why people want to get out of the city and put themselves in that countryside. Both scenarios play out on the regular here in red dirt country, with results that mirror our current national tendency towards polarization between city and country. Very seldom do you find someone with the depth and talent level of an S.G. Goodman choosing to stay in a small town in a rural setting, with all of its tragedies and shortcomings firmly in mind, over practically any other place of their choosing in the whole U.S. As S.G. Goodman said in another interview, what you find commonly is people in rural places tending not to listen to outsiders, and progressively minded people leaving and taking their ideas with them. She, however, is taking a road few have traveled: she embraces her homeplace as part of her resolve to see change by living it out in front of people.

S.G. Goodman (photo: Meredith Truax)

S.G. Goodman spoke with me following her live performance on public radio WNCW on September 20th, 2022, and we present two songs from that live set here, as well as album tracks from her second collection titled Teeth Marks. Our conversation touches on her love of her Kentucky homeland, where she does not shy away from the manual labor that she first knew growing up on her family farm. She also takes note of the region’s tragedies which, at times, have served as a catalyst to pave the way for the greater good, plus we go in depth about two songs at the center of her new album: “Work Until I Die” and “If You Were Someone I Loved”.

Songs heard in this episode:

“Work Until I Die” by S.G. Goodman, from Teeth Marks, excerpt

“Space and Time” by S.G. Goodman, performed live on WNCW 09-20-22, excerpt

“If You Were Someone I Loved” by S.G. Goodman, live on WNCW 09-20-22

“All My Love Is Coming Back To Me” by S.G. Goodman, from Teeth Marks

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Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW, and to Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it.   – Joe Kendrick