Brad Paisley's controversial new "Accidental Racist," his polarizing, Internet-enraging team-up with LL Cool J, is the latest in a long line of country songs about Dixie pride and Southern identity, which have been blasting out of roadhouse jukeboxes for decades. Of course, that topic hasn't always been treated so thoughtfully: Some artists have just let their Confederate flags fly without worrying about being misinterpreted, and others have simply played the topic for laughs, honoring their heritage and showing a down-home sense of humor at the same time.
Almost more than any other style, country music has an intense sense of place. The Southern guys and gals you'll encounter here singing about their lives know exactly where they're from, and they've got no qualms about painting you as vivid a picture as possible, whether their message is serious (Hank Williams, Jr.'s apocalyptic "A Country Boy Can Survive"), sentimental (Kenny Chesney's "Back Where I Come From"), or silly (The Lacs' "Country Boy Fresh"). So whether you want to delve deep into what it means to have a Southern soul, or you're only after a soundtrack for a backwoods barbecue, you're in the right place.