Tim Higgins is a preservationist, which is Alabama is rough sledding. After graduating from college, he worked for the Preservation Society in Tuscaloosa, where he tried to save the Victorian houses, including the one where he grew up, from destruction. It was a losing effort, but along the way Higgins learned a lot about politics and developed his skills as a songwriter. His preservation efforts led him to explore the concept of "blight," a common term developers use to describe buildings they want to tear down.
On the Songfacts Podcast
, Higgins told the story: "I would come across this term of 'blight' used in the 1940s, '50s, '60s as a way for urban renewal. The city could consider a property a blight and condemn it to tear it down. And most often that happened in lower-income communities, where people of color owned homes. Blight is invasive, and the word is lobbed at plants and communities that are not what the status quo likes. So the running theme throughout the album is this growing idea of blight."