Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Well enough worryin’ and map-surveyin’ for the moment, let’s at least get the tunes set.

Impossible to even hope to survey the Jazz contributions—just stand around in the NOLA airport diggin’ the vintage Pops—so we’ll start instead with 50s-era, or 50s-esque tunes.

Pride of place goes to Fats Domino, what with “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” although this week “Let the Four Winds Blow” might be the ticket. The greatest ever zydeco number, Clifton Chenier’s “Zodico Stomp,” is not available, but the jump/zydeco combo “All Night Long,” which is what those winds will be doing Wednesday night, is. “Sea Cruises” won’t be very popular, I dare say, but along with one the greatest rockabilly guys ever, Joe Clay, everyone will be eager to bid Isaac “Goodbye, Goodbye.” Clay was a fine singer indeed, but is perhaps even more noteworthy for having managed to attract great players, especially guitar-wise. Hal Harris was dangerous enough, but listen to the fantastic Mickey Baker kill it on “Cracker Jack!” Yikes!

But now the thing from the 50s that really became a NOLA tradition was the piano boogie style, which you obviously hear in Domino, in the ever-great “Rockin’ Pnemonia” by Huey Piano Smith, and the too-oft forgotten Smiley Lewis, whose best were a song about getting’ hitched—“I Hear those Bells a’ Ringin’” (not available)—and another about “Caledonia’s Party.” This tradition was continued and developed by Professor Longhair, who we’ll hear here on the iconic “Tipitina” and one called “Big Chief,” and by Dr. John, so many to choose from on the you-tube, but I like this “Swanee River Boogie.” Although often not recorded with justice, I guess we should put Austin gal Marcia Ball in there also, here singin’ fine about the near-by town “Mobile.”

Hey, my knowledge here is limited, so anyone want to chime in with other suggestions, please do. More soon for the Cajun and Zydeco, and for the Brass Bands.

No, I will have nuthin’ to say about any New Orleans or Louisiana ROCK . . . ’tis a place strictly for Rollin’ it.

More on: Music, Rock n' Roll

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles