Southern by the Grace of God

Jim Clark

The saying “Southern by the Grace of God” came to us, maybe, from an old column writer Lewis Grizzard, sometime back in the late 1970s.

Lewis was always saying stuff about the south, — “If you want something sweet, order the pound cake. Anybody who puts sugar in the corn bread is a heathen who doesn't love the Lord, not to mention Southeastern Conference football.”

He was better known for his humorous newspaper columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a popular stand-up comedian & lecturer.

Many ‘round here read his books — “Don't Sit Under the Grits Tree With Anyone Else but Me,” “If Love Were Oil, I'd Be About a Quart Low,” “I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962 and Other Nekkid Truths,” and “Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself” — come to mind.

He was always going on about his ex-wifes, I remember him talking about a bumper sticker he had “Honk if you’ve been married to Lewis Grizzard.”

One of my favorites was “Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don't like and give her a house.”

Another was “I grew up in a very large family in a very small house. I never slept alone until after I was married.”

Of course, some Southerners would argue with me and say the saying “Southern by the Grace of God” should be contributed to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Southern by the Grace of God was a live album by the southern rock band recorded during the Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Tour in 1987.

These live concerts were a 10-year anniversary tribute by Lynyrd Skynyrd to the members of the band who had died in a 1977 plane crash. The plane crash killed frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines and road manager Dean Kilpatrick.

I saw them during that tour. By then, younger brother Johnny Van Zant was doing lead vocals, and middle brother Donnie Van Zant, 38 Special, would pop up on the live recording during “Call Me the Breeze” and Sweet Home Alabama.”

Oddly, when thinking of the quote “Southern by the Grace of God,” I thought of another, much older, quote by Harry S. Truman “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Too many times we let our nasty ego get involved, and tend to forget we can’t do anything “extraordinary” on our own.

The Courier, Lord willing, will turn 30 this October.

I’m just a little gear, being turned by bigger and smarter gears needing lots of lubrication from family, friends, my band of brothers, advertisers and readers to keep printing. I try to never forget that.

Our goal is to make you excited about Thursdays, where part of your enjoyment that day is to pull The Lee County Courier out of your mailbox.

I don’t really know who said “Southern by the Grace of God” first. Lewis could have heard it from someone sitting next to him on a barstool. A Skynyrd member could have heard it from one of their roadies.

The important thing is sometime soon I’m going to pull out one of my old Grizzard books, put on a little Skynyrd, sit on my porch with a cold glass of iced tea, with a slice of lemon, and thank God for how blessed I am.

Mississppi summer will be here soon — June 20.

You can reach Jim at

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