||06 October 2003
Thoughts on a New Orleans-themed mix tape.
So the person who got the mix tape I offered Friday - and did I mention how ingrateful you are? - wanted New Orleans music. A challenge.
See, New Orleans music can be so many different things. For some people it's jazz - both traditional and contemporary. For others it's funk and the brass bands. For others it's blues, or the roots rock you can hear in any one of a dozen bars.
For me, though, it's Mardi Gras music. It's a little sampling of all the different styles, all centered around an event that is quintessentially New Orleans. It's like Christmas music, almost; it's identified so closely with a particular season that it sounds a little off any other time of year. Not bad, just not quite right.
So on this tape I went heavy on Mardi Gras music. A few other tunes about New Orleans, and some I just associate with the city. It's a good tape if you're me.
- REM, New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 - Because it's in the title, right?
- Dixie Cups, Iko Iko - An ubiquitous New Orleans tune, but if you listen to it there's a whiff of something ancient there. A funhouse tune for a funhouse city.
- Professor Longhair, Tipitina - What about this song isn't famous?
- Harry Connick, Jr., Here Comes the Big Parade - Not a Mardi Gras standard, but it should be. Have I mentioned I want to be Harry Connick, Jr. when I grow up? He's got his own Mardi Gras parade and an underwear model wife. Not too shabby.
- Fats Domino, Jambalaya - Fats is supposed to be a cool guy, but he won't fly and he doesn't do interviews. He just stays home and chills.
- Stop, Inc., Second Line - Another song you hear a million times during the week leading up to Fat Tuesday. Everyone dances to it.
- Zachary Richard, Colinda - Cajun and zydeco music are associated with New Orleans, though they don't come from here. This is good swamp pop.
- Jimmy Buffett, The Wino and I Know - Buffett got his start in New Orleans, you know. And the burgers at his place here are really, really good.
- Buckwheat Zydeco, Jole Blon - Zydeco musician does cajun traditional. It's about a pretty girl.
- Neville Brothers, Hey Pocky Way - Also played a lot during Carnival. In fact, there's a story here...
- Beastie Boys, Shake Your Rump - ...or was it this song? Anyway, it was Mardi Gras 2002, the Friday before Fat Tuesday. A friend of mine used to live on St. Charles, right on the parade route, and I was at her house late that night with Sonya, some friends and a big crowd of people. Everyone was drinking beer and maybe a little high and eating red beans and either this tune or the last one came on and suddenly everyone was dancing. Not like a Frankie and Annette "hey everyone, let's dance!" It was an organic thing. The music was right, the mood was right and I looked around and everyone was shakin' that thing.
- Marcia Ball, Louisiana 1927 - A Randy Newman tune done by a blues piano regular in the clubs here.
- Better Than Ezra, King of New Orleans - Back in '95 or '96 Sonya and I came down to New Orleans for a weekend. It was the same weekend all the radio stations had just got this single and it seems like we heard it everywhere - in the car, pounding out of clubs and shops, on the radio when we woke up in the morning. I immediately loved it.
- Beausoleil, Zydeco Gris Gris - This song is about werewolves, I think. Or, as they say on the bayou, the loup garoup.
- Concrete Blonde, Bloodletting - One of the truly great songs. Ever. For some people. I'm one of them.
- Al Johnson, Carnival Time - Ubiquitous Mardi Gras Song or, as we'll refer to them from now on, UMGS.
- Frankie Ford, Sea Cruise - I saw Frankie Ford play at the Orpheuscapade one year. He's what would have happened if Jerry Lee Lewis and Liberace had had a baby.
- Better Than Ezra, WWOZ - I wake up to WWOZ every day. All New Orleans music, all the time. The concert calendar is very soothing at seven in the morning.
- Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kiss Them For Me - A staple of New Orleans road trip tapes for years.
- Neville Brothers, Tell It Like It Is - I saw them do this at the Beale Street Music Festival a few years ago. Chills, buddy.
- Professor Longhair, Go To The Mardi Gras - UMGS. This came on the WEVL New Orleans show one time when I was getting ready to leave Memphis for Mardi Gras and I about jumped out of my truck, I got so excited.
- The Hawketts, Mardi Gras Mambo - UMGS.
- Dirty Dozen, L'il Liza Jane - UMGS.
- The Iguanas, As We Kiss Goodnight - A dark, brooding tune. It sounds like three a.m. on Esplanade, just after a thunderstorm. In the middle of summer. All potential humidity and unexploded ordnance. A great, sadly obscure tune.
- Rebirth, Do Whatcha Wanna - UMGS.