I’m not the sort of guy you should take literally, except today. You’ve heard of Naturally New Orleans; this list is Literally New Orleans. It’s ALL songs with New Orleans in the title. I thought I was simplifying my life, but I had 25 contenders.
The Sunday Dozen format imposes some discipline this time around. Remember my epic 2019 Louisiana Tunes piece for Bayou Brief? That ended up with 50 tunes. There will be some repetition from that listicle, but what’s a bit of repetition among friends?
I’ve arranged this literal list in chronological order. Make that a rough and approximate chronological order. It’s a New Orleans Tunes list, so some imprecision is inevitable.
Let’s get literal.
We begin with perhaps the best loved song on this list: Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans. It was the theme song of the NOLA diaspora during the immediate post-K period.
It was written in 1946 by Louis Alter and Eddie DeLange. Louis Armstrong was the first to record it. It remained one of his signature songs for the rest of his long and glorious career.
The great Hoosier songsmith Hoagy Carmichael wrote New Orleans in 1932. He didn’t record it until 1957. It was arranged and conducted by Johnny Mandel who is best remembered for the MASH theme song, Suicide Is Painless.
The inevitable Antoine Domino song. I’ve always dug the pizzicato strings at the start of the song.
Let’s jump forward to 1975 with The Meters. No band has a more impeccable New Orleans pedigree. I’ll get out the way and let them talk:
It’s time to get too loose on Toulouse Street with The Band and Bobby Charles:
Leigh Harris was one of the finest singers to come out of New Orleans and that’s saying a lot. Her nickname was Li’l Queenie. It was a well-deserved title.
Let’s get percolating:
New Orleans Is Sinking is one of The Tragically Hip’s signature songs. It was recorded in 1989, so it’s NOT about Katrina and the Federal Flood. Call it musical foreshadowing:
What would a New Orleans Dozen be without a song by Dr. John? Goin’ Back To New Orleans was an old song that Our Mac revived as the title track of his 1992 album of New Orleans standards. I wish all revivals were this successful.
Earl King is one of the most underrated musicians to come out of New Orleans. He wrote No City Like New Orleans for his Hard River To Cross album.
Trumpeter-Singer Kermit Ruffins is the Louis Armstrong of our time. He’s neither as famous nor innovative but he’s as lovable as Satchmo and almost as talented. In my days working in the Quarter, I often ran into him. He always called me Chief. It’s time to drop the snappy patter and play the song.
New Orleans Cooking is Cyril Neville’s second appearance on this list. He co-wrote Talkin’ About New Orleans in his Metric period. This time, he’s talking about New Orleans food. The song lives up to its title: it cooks.
Finally, a song that closes out the list on a somber note: New Orleans Murder. What’s not to love about a musical summit meeting between blues legend Bobby Rush and local legend Dr. John?
What would a Sunday Dozen be without some lagniappe?
The next song has special meaning for all the OG New Orleans bloggers. Ray Shea adapted the lyrics of this Kermit Ruffins song for a tribute to Ashley Morris at the Big Man’s funeral. All my New Orleans roads lead back to Ashley: FYFF, RIP.
That concludes this week’s Sunday Dozen after its Carnival hiatus, Hopefully, it was a successful comeback.
The last word is a picture taken by Dr. A of Dr. Ashley Morris at his penultimate Krewe du Vieux parade:
4 thoughts on “The Sunday Dozen: New Orleans Tunes”
Wow, thanks for including the Hip.
They have a special affinity for New Orleans, which deserved reciprocation.
Just recently discovered this one.
It’s a new (old?) one on me too. Thanks for sharing.
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