Thacker Honors Willie Morris, Jim Dickinson This Thursday

The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will honor two authors with close ties to Oxford on this Thursday’s show.

Jim Dickinson

Writer Willie Morris lived in Oxford from 1980-1990 and served as Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss. Musician Jim Dickinson, whose credits include work with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, served as bandleader for the Thacker house band, the Yalobushwhackers, from 2005 until shortly before his death in 2009.

Morris’ book of sports essays, “Always Stand in Against the Curve,” is being reissued by Yoknapatawpha Press., a Southern regional press based in Oxford. Dickinson’s posthumous memoir, “I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone,” was published this month by the University Press of Mississippi. Morris died in Jackson on August 2, 1999. Dickinson died in Memphis on August 15, 2009.

The two will be featured on the radio show Thursday, April 6, at 6 p.m. at Off Square Books, represented by Morris’ son, filmmaker David Rae Morris and Dickinson’s widow, Mary Lindsay Dickinson. Admission is free. The program, hosted by Jim Dees and the Yalobushwhackers, can be heard locally on WUMS, 92.1 FM and online at http://myrebelradio.com/. It will be re-broadcast on MPB radio (90.3 FM in Oxford) at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 15.

In keeping with the family theme, the musical guest for the show will be Lilly Winwood, daughter of British rocker, Steve Winwood.

Each of the autobiographical essays in “Always Stand In Against the Curve,” represent chapters of a sporting life: The opening piece is a novella, “The Fumble,” an epic account of a high school football player’s worst nightmare. In another essay, Morris recounts a college road trip to Notre Dame with “Bevo,” the University of Texas Longhorn steer. There’s also a hilarious account of Morris hitting an inside-the-park home run off Dustin Hoffman in a celerity softball game – and breaking his foot in the process. 

“This is a book for those who shot baskets under a goal over a garage door or shagged fly balls in open fields until it was too dark to see the hoop or the baseball,” said Yoknapatawpha Press publisher Larry Wells. “It is quintessential Willie.”

In “I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone,” Jim Dickinson displays his world-class storytelling chops. The book is a mix of homespun philosophy, hipster poetry, ribald anecdotes and personal reminiscences covering a Who’s Who of blues and rock. Dickinson worked with everybody, including Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Arlo Guthrie, Big Star, Albert King, Furry Lewis, Delaney Bramlett as well as the aforementioned Dylan and Stones.

Dickinson established the Zebra Ranch recording studio in 1995 near Coldwater, Mississippi; Mary Lindsay worked the business side of the operation that continues today. A former horse trainer and artist, Mary Lindsay, recently earned a sixth-degree black belt in karate. She and Jim are the parents of Luther and Cody Dickinson, founders of the North Mississippi Allstars.

Dave Rae Morris’ photographs have been published in National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, and The New York Times, among others. His most recent film projects include documentaries on late musician Duff Dorrough and civil rights pioneer James Meredith and “Yazoo Revisited,” an award-winning examination of school integration in his father’s hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi. That film will debut on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television on Friday, April 28, at 8 p.m. Morris lives in New Orleans.

Willie Morris and Pete. Photo by David Rae Morris.

Following the broadcast, Morris and Dickinson will sign books and greet readers.


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