Life goes by on a Talihina sky
The hopped-up boys are lookin' for their trouble
The knocked up girls, well,
They've all got their share
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Talihina, a tiny town with under 2,000 inhabitants, is situated in Le Flore County, Oklahoma. Its name is derived from the Choctaw words meaning iron road, as Talihina grew out of the dust around the rail road first laid through Choctaw territory in 1886. Today, Talihina has a demographic where the Native American population is almost equal to the white population. Although almost 25% of the population in this small town is below the poverty line, Talihina is now on the map and has become a household name thanks to three brothers and a cousin.
Caleb, Nathan, Jared and Matthew Followill formed the band Kings of Leon in 1999, naming their band in honour of their grandfather Leon from Talihina, Oklahoma. Their debut album Youth & Young Manhood,
released August 2003, borrowed its title from a drawing of the family tree of Moses, as found in one their father's Pentecostal Bibles. The album received favourable reviews from critics and the public even though it peaked outside the top 100 in the USA. Despite its failure in the charts, Rolling Stone
magazine named it the tenth best album of 2003.
Undaunted, the Followill clan continued to make music and record albums, finally achieving record breaking success in 2008 when all four of their studio albums gained immense popularity in Australia, thanks to the release of their hit single “Sex on Fire.” This single was soon followed by the equally popular “Use Somebody” and “Notion.” Kings of Leon went on to win three Grammy awards and as of 2013 are currently working on a sixth studio album.
Following their seemingly overnight rise to rock stardom, Kings of Leon made a documentary about their journey from obscurity to fame in an 87 minute feature called Talihina Sky
, named after a hidden track on their debut album, which delves into the band’s childhood, giving their fans a taste of what it was like growing up in a religious community with backwoods revivals. “We wanted to keep it as we were, as real as possible,” Nathan said about the film, “just to show that we're the same kids who were crawdad-hunting in the creek when we were 10 years old.” While the Followills meticulously documented the recording of their first album, the footage was left on a camcorder in a rental car and stolen, never to be recovered. “They stole the most priceless footage. People are going to want to know more about those early days, but we don't have it,” Caleb said of the footage, conspicuous by its absence in the film, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Long Form Music Video. Despite the loss of the footage, the film has received praise for its honesty and raw emotion as well as for the acoustic rendition of the titular song included at the end of the film.
Kings of Leon have become the darlings of southern rock, perhaps because unlike so many stars who leave their roots to live the high life of mega stardom in L.A., the Followill clan has never forgotten its roots. In fact, they celebrate their humble origins and this lends a sincerity and richness to their music sorely lacking in the derivative rock of many of their contemporaries.
~ Suzanne van Rooyen
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