Darby, Florida

You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie by The Bellamy Brothers

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And you ain't just whistlin' Dixie
You ain't just slappin' your knee
I'm a grandson of the southland boys
An heir to the Confederacy Read full Lyrics
When you read about a song that mentions a town or location of sorts, you might get to thinking about paying a visit. But in the case of this song, paying a visit is nigh on impossible. That's because the area, the palmetto patches, the pine country of Florida mentioned in the lyrics isn't there anymore.

Places can vanish as a result of wild storms or, as in this case, from wild development. The Florida land in this song has been built upon in what is sometimes called progress.

The Bellamy Bothers – Howard and David – are baby boomers who, musically, have just about done it all. They grew up in rural Florida, where life was basic and could be pretty darn scary at times; more on that later. Their old man was a busy musician, and although the brothers had little or no formal music education, they picked up the art of playing a variety of instruments. Perseverance is certainly one of their qualities, and to date, the "boys" have recorded some 50 albums. Where some bands have been swamped with the development of new music styles, the Bellamy Brothers have been clever and managed a cross-over between country, pop, and rock.

The Bellamy Brothers on their ranch in Darby, FloridaThe Bellamy Brothers on their ranch in Darby, Florida
To millions they have stayed true to their roots and have not been swayed by the so-called popular trends or being glitzy. They are the same today as they were all those decades ago.

They've been clever in taking sayings and turning them into songs. "If I said you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" is a lyric from one of their songs, but they admit to having taken it from a Groucho Marx comedy routine. "You ain't just whistling Dixie" is a well-known saying from the South. "Whistlin' Dixie" means talking nonsense. So someone who "ain't whistlin' Dixie" is saying something sensible or serious or both.

Harking back to their youth and the lifestyle they enjoyed in rural Florida, things were fairly primitive. Fetching water meant negotiating the local wildlife. Howard recalled those early days in a recent interview. "It used to be just beautifully wild, with rattlesnakes, moccasins, alligators. I wonder how we survived it. You always went out into the woods when we were growing up, you were always a little bit in fear of your life."

There are still some areas of Florida which today can be labeled rural. This means the population is sparse, the roads narrow, and traffic lights are pretty much non-existent. In most places, the days when you could see an alligator from your back porch are long gone, but in Darby, where the Bellamy Brothers have a ranch, they've preserved this lifestyle. In 2018, they even got their own reality show, Honky Tonk Ranch, on The Cowboy Channel (it later moved to other networks). The show focuses on music, family, and the great outdoors.

Cenarth Fox
April 28, 2013, updated February 6, 2022
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Comments: 2

  • Anthony from Eastaboga Al.why did he leave Alabama out of the song
  • Lonitra from JshhfngndljnrKeep these artilces coming as they've opened many new doors for me.
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