Our Thoughts

“He Guided Me to Tennessee” –Arrested Development

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Arrested Development is one of my all-time favorite music groups. During an age of cultural bliss via clothing, music, art, and television, Arrested Development embodied the whole gambit. I remember attending Greenwood Middle School in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1992, the year the song hit the airwaves. The school was predominantly African American. It was also full of teachers who believed in us and injected into us a sense of pride as we entered the classroom each morning. My favorite teacher was Ms. Kendall, may God rest her soul. Years later I learned the Principal, Mr. Roberts, is my cousin.

In a state dominated by country music, the song “Tennessee” uniquely combated musical norms. I am sure some felt unnerved by the sounds of African rhythm and soulful tones from these artists as they embraced atrocity and spiritual rebirth in “Take me Home.” As an African American Tennessean, I accepted this song to be my “state anthem,” a calling to delve deeper into my own family roots and to gain a greater appreciation for Hip-Hop. These goals became more important after learning that the same year the KKK originated in Pulaski, Tennessee.

The areas mentioned in the song, Dyersburg and Ripley, are located in the western part of Tennessee. The main cash crop, before and after emancipation, was cotton. In 1917, an African American farmhand named Ligon (or Lation) Scott was lynched in Dyersburg for an alleged rape. Like most places in the south, Mr. Scott’s lynching attracted a large audience of adults and children. In her book Lethal Punishment: Lynchings and Legal Executions in the South, Margaret Vandiver describes his lynching as “the most ghastly of all those I researched” [6].

In the second verse of “Take me Home,” Speech, the group’s lead singer, speaks to God:

Lord it’s obvious we got a relationship

Talkin’ to each other every night and day

Although you’re superior over me

We talk to each other in a friendship way

Then outta nowhere you tell me to break

Outta the country and into more country

Past Dyersburg and Ripley

Where the ghost of childhood haunts me

Walk the roads my forefathers walked

Climb the trees my forefathers hung from

Ask those trees for all their wisdom”

Arrested Development Album Cover

Perhaps Speech is a relative of Mr. Scott. Maybe he speaks in general terms for those hung due to oppressive laws, unspoken rules, lies, or just the color of their skin. For some Tennesseans, “Take me Home” is just a song. I hope the song brings clarity to this travesty and illustrates how artistic expression, like Speech shares in this song, provides a voice for many. Brother Speech, I am glad your ancestors directed you back “from whence you came,” back to Tennessee.

Peace and blessings to you all! #HistoryBeforeUs

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Comments

  • ANDREA GILLILAND says:

    Mr. Speech connected with DIVINE ENERGY when he brought those words to life in our reality.

    I was the new kid at Dyersburg Middle School, a transfer from Ripley, when I first connected with this song.
    At the end of the day, my feet danced to the bottom of the hill waiting for my mom to “Take Me Home.”
    “Take me to another place, take me to another land
    Make me forget all that hurts me, let me understand your plan”

    I was humming, swaying, and releasing the power of those words.
    Yet, unaware, I was standing in the spot where evil and hate surrounded Mr. Ligon Scott so long ago.

    Minutes later, the silver jambox in my room vibrated with emotion.
    Gazing out the window at the house next door, unaware, the family of Mr. Scott’s accusers were inside.
    “Oh, won’t you let me, won’t you help me
    won’t you help me understand your plan”

    Rewind, Play, Repeat.
    Transmute, Release, Heal.

    Decades later I return to “where the ghost of childhood haunts me.”
    Aware of my true soul calling and my strong I AM presence,
    I “walk the roads my forefathers walked,” taking back the energy of my Chickasaw Indian tribe.
    The 1818 treaty is now null and void, and 2018 is full of love and light.
    The spirit of Mr. Scott, the words of Mr. Speech, and the grids of the Chickasaw are forever connected.

    And the intersection..
    For some strange reason it had to be (Home)
    He guided me to Tennessee (Home)

    • Frederick Murphy says:

      Yes. This song gave me life and a new understanding of how important ancestral roots are. Being a native Tennessean as a youth, I just thought it was “cool” to have the state mentioned. As I matured it meant far more than that!!!

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