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VCV: Louisiana Red – “I Come From New Orleans”

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Tonight, the New Orleans Saints won their first ever Super Bowl.  We are being politely commanded to see this as some form of divine reparations to a city that was nearly destroyed four and a half years ago by Hurricane Katrina.  We're being cajoled to see the Saints and sports as some sort of unifying force.  I know it's a good story and network executives and media-types love a good narrative.  You have to be pretty up yourself to throw a splash of cold water on such a “moment.”

It will shock you to know I'm not one for cheap emotion and contrived solidarity.  My initial reaction was to piss all over the moment, to send everyone buying into it out for a lap, to tell them to repeat “I will not be a sap” each stride until they've learned their lesson, and that while they're at it they should think about how far that city has to go to return to viability, to say nothing of prospering.

As that thought thread swirled through my mind, I started thinking about today's Verse Chorus Verse entry and how I was going to weave the Super Bowl and the 2010 Blues Music Awards together in a coherent article.  I immediately thought of my new discovery, Louisiana Red.  Red has two albums nominated for major awards this year and on one of them he has a song “I Come From Louisiana.”  I considered my problem solved and set to work.  Then I had an epiphany.

There are many facets to the blues, and that's something lost on a lot of people.  The blues can be people singing sorrowful songs in the worst of times, like those in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.  They can also be songs that celebrate the joys and the rhythms of life, those breaths between our troubles.  A sense of foreboding is hardwired into the DNA of the blues, and the music responds by carrying the weight of our sorrows and helping us forget them.  I don't know if it's possible to sing the kind of deep blues Louisiana Red sings without having experienced the hardships he's endured, but endured them he has and that's why his music is broader than idle complaints and unending tales of woe.  He's seen his fortunes rise and fall and he still sings “I Come From Louisiana.” 

So, fine.  Very well.  Have it your way, CBS.  The New Orleans Saints are a beacon of hope to a troubled city with a rich history.  Football is a unifying force.  The gods have smiled upon the Crescent City, given the Big Easy a taste of football immortality, and I'm going to listen to Back To The Black Bayou and sit here being happy about it.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • John Taylor

    Nice piece, Josh. Great to see someone writing intelligently about blues music – it ain’t always pretty, but through thick and thin it remains the most emotionally engaging and physically powerful music around.

  • Josh Hathaway

    Thanks, John. I’ve enjoyed your blues writing, as well. I’m doing a series on the upcoming BMAs. Would love to hear your thoughts on the nominees and categories as well.