By Jonathan Deal
It is often said that great art comes from great tragedy.
A couple of local musicians have taken that saying to heart, producing a song inspired by the tornadoes that swept through Alabama on April 27, 2011.
Elkmont natives Preston Pylant and Stephen Mobley teamed up to create “Southern Thing to Do,” a song written in memory of those were affected by the storms. Pylant, 31, initially wrote the lyrics as a poem in response to what he saw following the tornados.
“I went down and spent a day at Lakeview Methodist cleaning up,” Pylant said. The church on Bridgeforth Road in Tanner was demolished.
“There was no talk of quitting or defeat in anyone. Everybody you talked to was about rebuilding. That’s just the way the southern spirit has always been.”
Pylant and Mobley volunteered with tornado relief locally and saw the enormous response across the state. One particular volunteer effort stood out to Pylant.
“I saw the Auburn football players helping out in Tuscaloosa,” Pylant said. “For those few weeks after the tornados came through – the state is normally divided so much between Alabama/Auburn – those lines were gone for those few weeks. It didn’t matter who you were or what you were. People were going out of their way to do whatever they could to help people.”
Those volunteers along with what Pylant saw locally inspired the chorus of “Southern Thing to Do:”
“We yell Roll Tide Roll and watch War Eagle fly.
It’s neighbors helping neighbors, just trying to survive.
If it storms on you, you know the south will ring true.
We’re gonna help you through, it’s the southern thing to do.”
Pylant, who says he is more of a poet than a songwriter, didn’t receive much attention performing his ballad. That’s where Mobley comes in. The 20-year-old musician joined Pylant to create the current version of the song.
“I was right in the middle of East Limestone when the tornados came through,” Mobley said. “The weeks after, I was out helping. So when I saw those lyrics, it hit home. It’s about everybody coming together to rebuild. The song is so true because it was what was in hearts at that time.”
Mobley said the duo hopes to have the song available on iTunes in the near future and can currently be found at http://reminiscent1.bandcamp.com/ and on YouTube.
Today, the song serves as a soundtrack for those remembering loved ones lost one year ago.