Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Desolation Blues: The Gothic Trespass in the life and Songwriting of Tennessee Blues Musician Ray Cashman

This thesis explores the pervading feeling of the Gothic in the life and songwriting of Tennessee blues musician Ray Cashman. I argue that Cashman emotionally responds to the South through the framework of the Gothic to assert his identity as a white southern working-class male. As a reader, writer and performer, he trespasses the lines of race and class. The ethnographic fieldwork I conducted in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina between 2015 and 2017 led me to reflect on the intriguing relationship between blues, southern Gothic literature and white working-class culture in the South. The songs written by Cashman often express a feeling of desolation, bleakness and decay, invoke a sense of nostalgia for a bygone time, or describe eerie landscapes and supernatural presences. Cashman also retells southern Gothic stories, like “Snake Feast,” inspired by Harry Crews’s A Feast of Snakes.