With a band name like North Mississippi Allstars, it’s obvious these guys have a reverence for their native soil. Maybe that’s why their rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown” sounds so natural. Their heartfelt recording is the closing track on the compilation Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A., which will be released on Sept. 16.
“We wanted to give ‘My Hometown’ our own local flavor,” says Luther Dickinson, who’s in the band with his brother Cody and bass player Chris Chew. “We recorded at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studio (using Al Green‘s vocal mic), giving it our best Memphis style with some Mississippi slide guitar.”
Springsteen’s iconic album is marking its 30th anniversary this year, yet most of its characters would easily adjust to the modern era. Who can’t relate to the “Glory Days” classmate who never really grew up? Or the conflicted soul of “Downbound Train”?
Springsteen’s “My Hometown” opens with a father-son talk about family roots, a theme that fits the Allstars well — Luther and Cody Dickinson’s father is the late music producer Jim Dickinson. However, about a minute into the song, the narrative broadens its scope to the social issues of the 1960s. That’s where the Allstars put the autobiographical element on hold.
“We struggled with the verse about racial conflict,” Luther Dickinson says. “We grew up in Mississippi public schools, playing in integrated bands and luckily never witnessed such behavior firsthand. We fortunately live in an enlightened time which benefits from the progress, the revolution and evolution, of our parents’ generation. As our father Jim Dickinson said, ‘rock ‘n’ roll helped change the world!’”
The upcoming tribute also features new recordings by Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, Trampled by Turtles and Holly Williams, among many others. Enjoy the CMT Edge exclusive premiere of North Mississippi Allstars’ version of Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown.”