Steve Nelson playing guitar on the terrace, Tucson, Arizona

People have asked about the lyrics to The Nelson Brothers song Down in Biloxi. Although we haven’t been to Biloxi (yet!), we have travelled extensively in the States and many of our songs reflect our times there, in New England, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, California and Tennessee. We have listened to American music since our childhood, our father had an extensive collection of records by the likes of Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves etc; and also grew up on a diet of American tv shows, principally westerns. American place names have always held a fascination for me and I first heard of Biloxi in the great Jesse Winchester song of the same name.

Down around Biloxi
Pretty girls are swimmin’ in the sea
Oh they all look like sisters in the ocean
The boy will fill his pail with salted water
And the storms will blow from off towards New Orleans (Jesse Winchester)

A beautiful song which we first heard on an album by English singer/songwriter Ian Matthews in the mid 70’s. The name stuck with me and when I set out to write a song about a man ‘escaping’ his past, undertaking a road trip from North to South I looked on the map and there it was, south of Toledo, the other place name in the song. I liked the idea of this man ‘on the run’, trying to escape the inescapable, running from North to South, “on an easy wheel”, hoping to find comfort in the warmth of the Gulf, to Biloxi, the place which represents a better life, a new dream, far away from his past in the frozen North.

I have also read extensively, especially American crime thrillers, and at the time of writing was devouring James Lee Burke’s novels about his detective Dave Robicheaux, based in New Orleans.

The closest we’ve been is flying over the Mississippi delta en route from Nashville to Tucson, hopefully one day we’ll make it down there.

Many thanks to Vincent Creel and the City of Biloxi for letting us use their video for our song.


Leave a Reply