The KKK Leader Haunted-House Song the Late Phil Everly Never Got To Write

Phil (left) and Don Everly, in a Cadence Records publicity photo.<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Everly_Borthers.JPG">Bruno of Hollywood</a>/Wikimedia Commons

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Phil Everly, who with his older brother Don made up the country/rock ‘n roll duo the Everly Brothers, died on Friday in Burbank, California, due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.

The Everly Brothers’ influence on popular music in the 1950s and 1960s was immense. The songs they strummed and sang (in legendary harmonies) were often big hits. During the height of their powers, they had almost three dozen hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Bye Bye Love.” The Everly Brothers were among the first ten acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The duo influenced some of the best artists of the 20th century, such as The Beatles and The Byrds. “We owe [the Everly Brothers] everything,” Bob Dylan said. “They started it all.”

I’m not going to pretend that I’m capable of writing the definitive or the most comprehensive Phil Everly obituary. There are a lot of remembrances already out there, and plenty of rock historians who can tell you much more about Everly’s place in musical history than I ever could. But what I can offer is my favorite Everly story—one regarding perhaps the most brilliant song that Everly never wrote.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published in June 2013, he talks about his beautiful house outside of Nashville, Tennessee, in Maury County. It was built in 1846, and has this unique bit of history to it, according to Everly:

During the Civil War, a famous Confederate lieutenant general named Nathan Bedford Forrest had a violent argument with a lieutenant named A. Willis Gould. Words were exchanged, Gould shot Forrest in the hip, and Forrest wound up [fatally stabbing] him. Forrest recuperated in our bedroom. I suppose there’s a song in that story someplace.

I’m not sure if Forrest’s ghost is hanging around, but I have a theory about this house. It won’t let you do anything to the structure it doesn’t like. We had a roof leak a few years back, and the carpenter impulsively wanted to solve the problem by drilling a hole in the floor. But the bit snapped right off. The house wouldn’t let him do it. This kind of thing has happened several other times.

(For the record, Forrest died in Memphis, but let’s just say it’s plausible that this Confederate ghost could find its way back to this estate.)

The idea for a Nathan Bedford Forrest death-match / freaky haunted-house country-rock song is even more interesting when you consider that Forrest was also the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the namesake of Forrest Gump, and an accused war criminal. Under Forrest’s command, Confederate troops carried out the atrocity at Fort Pillow, where hundreds of surrendered black soldiers were slaughtered.

So who knows if he was being serious about this song. I hope so, since it would make for a terrific song. Sadly, it seems that Everly never got around to writing and recording it. But what he accomplished in life was, of course, already way more than enough. Some of the greatest rock music of the ’60s would not have sounded the way it did if it weren’t for Phil and Don. That’s a hell of a legacy to leave behind.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate