Playlist – Louisiana
Verbose as we are, there is no way we can spend the next year constantly
yelling talking to each other. Terrible as it may sound to the ears of an outsider, singing as loudly as possible is a frequent occurrence in The Highland Flinger (THF). We will make a playlist of what we’re slappin’ the air bass to. Each list will contain songs from artists/bands from the state or will allude to the state in some way.
We considered doing an all Britney Spears playlist for the state of Louisiana, because she easily has 15 songs that are worth including on such an esteemed playlist (see insert, right). Alas, with New Orleans being the birthplace of jazz and several other types of music it seemed a bit unfair. We love us some Brit, but we heard the best live music of our lives in New Orleans. So, you’re going to get some new, but there’s going to be lots and lots of old, too. But first, a history lesson from our recent Cemetery & Voodoo Tour:
Congo Square, now part of Armstrong Park, was a place where slaves were allowed to gather on Sundays. It was custom of the French & Spanish Roman Catholics to rest on Sunday and since the slaves were also required to be baptized into the faith, they could not work either.
So, on Sunday, slaves would gather in the Square and this is where they continued some of their tradition and culture from Africa and these are the very basic roots of jazz. We found it fascinating that one of, if not the MOST uniquely American contribution to the world came from slaves.
1. Louis Armstrong – La Vie En Rose
Louis Armstrong/Satchmo/Pops was born in New Orleans and became an icon there (we bought coasters with his likeness on them) and throughout the music world. La Vie En Rose directly translates to “Life in Pink,” which in English is something more like “Looking through rose-colored glasses,” which if you are, this song will undoubtedly add to that uplifting feeling.
2. Sidney Bechet – Si tu vois ma mère
Another jazz icon from NoLa, Sidney Bechet has come to newfound popularity after Midnight in Paris. Bechet mostly played clarinet, but this song’s tune is from the soprano sax. MUSIC!
3. Antoine “Fats” Domino – Blueberry Hill
We’ve covered some jazz, now here is some blues. You can remember it because we chose the song BLUEberry Hill. See what we did there? His first really successful hit was titled “The Fat Man” and henceforth became known as “Fats”, which is a terrible nickname, in our opinion.
4. Buckwheat Zydeco – Crawfish Song
I serenaded Mark while watching him throw down 3lbs. of crawfish at a crawfish boil (see HERE). I found this meal incredibly mental, as the boiled-live critter is on the plate starring at you, waiting for you to rip its body in half and suck on it’s head (see disgusted face HERE). Regardless, crawfish boils are a uniquely Louisianan and it makes sense that an entire song would be dedicated to the art of baiting these freshwater crustaceans. What would you use as crawfish bait?
5. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet – Peut Pas Me Refuser
Heavy fiddles and accordion are standard attributes of “Cajun”, as are the French lyrics. The title translates to “cannot refuse”, which is about right seeing as when this song comes on I can’t help but tap my feet even though I have no idea what is being said.
6. Cookie and the Cupcakes – Matilda
An example of Swamp Pop, but let’s be realistic –with a name like “Cookie and the Cupcakes” there was no way I could not choose this band. This is the best band name of all time. Although, in my brain I picture a giant cookie emotionally longing for another cookie, while cupcakes play instruments in the background.
7. Rebirth Brass Band – When the Saints Go Marching In
A song most of us learned as a child takes on a new sound in big brass. It is incredibly popular in New Orleans as a jazz funeral song, but also just in general. In fact, this is how the New Orleans Saints football program got their name – the popularity of this tune combined with the franchise being awarded on All Saints Day (November 1, 1966) (neworleanssaints.com). You know what else is on November 1? Our wedding anniversary. Speaking of which…
8. Harry Connick Jr. – It Had To Be You
A New Orleans native, Connick made waves back in the early 90s by starting his own Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of Orpheus. Mardi Gras Krewes put on the parades during Mardi Gras, and have very selective (and pricey) memberships with krewes dating back to the turn of the century. Starting a new krewe is a very difficult proposition. Another difficult proposition turned out to be learning the steps to the first dance at our wedding, which we danced to this song.
9. The Hawketts – Mardi Gras Mambo
This song is on any and every generic “New Orleans jazz” CD, and will invade your brain with the fierceness of The Macarena. Jackie sang this song no less than 12 million times whilst in Louisiana.
10. Dirty Bourbon River Show – The Dirty Bourbon 2nd Line
In an effort to feel less “touristy” during our first visit to New Orleans, we ventured to what we were told would be a more “local”-y populated area, Frenchman Street. Just past the eastern edge of the French Quarter, we found a street full of bars and live music, and short on beads and masks. By chance we went into the one bar still serving food, Maison, and stayed for the live music. Little did we know that our minds would be blown to pieces by the Dirty Boubon River Show that evening, a band that is described as a “vaudevillian rock and roll act”. Their musical style often incorporates a wide variety of genres, including gypsy, blues, New Orleans, and circus music. This song is from their latest album, released just a few short days ago. Enjoy.
11. Dave Matthews Band – Louisiana Bayou
If you’re like us, you thought that a bayou was just another name for a swamp. As it turns out, people in the South refer to anything near and including a flat body of water as a bayou. It could be a lake, a slow moving creek or river, or yes even a swampy wetland. Speaking of water…
12. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Louisiana Rain
Did you know it rains a lot in Louisiana. You did? Well, it’s one thing to know and another thing entirely to experience. On our first trip to New Orleans, we got caught in the rain and had to hide out in a KFC on St. Charles Ave. until what felt like a monsoon passed over us. After getting an umbrella, we made it through the day until finally walking home at night, when another rain spell proved our umbrella useless. Even with an umbrella, we were both soaked within one minute, which prompted Jackie to declare it as the “coldest she’d even been”.
During our second visit to New Orleans, the rain held off until the last night, when it came back in full force. Within 20 minutes of the first rainfall, the Highland Flinger (parked in a parking lot) was up to the mid-tires in water. The amount of rain had nothing on the lightening though, which apparently is a scene in itself in these parts. It was incredible, with some bursts lighting up the entire city.
13. Louis Prima – Pennies From Heaven
Louis Prima was born into a musical family in New Orleans (Why don’t we have things like “musical families” anymore?) where he took in many of the same musical influences that shaped Louis Armstrong. If you don’t remember this song from the movie Elf, then you might remember Louis Prima’s voice as the orangutan King Louie from Disney’s The Jungle Book.
14. Better Than Ezra – Good
Formed on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, Better Than Ezra started out by playing the local Louisiana club scene. As for who or what “Ezra” might be is a mystery that the band members have no interest in clearing up. It’s been said that the name came into being when the then nameless band entered a battle of the bands in competition with a group named Ezra. Needing a name to register they simply said that they were “better”.