Home > American Road Trip > American Road Trip Vol. 4

American Road Trip Vol. 4

On the last leg of our US tour we visited Elvis” cities: Memphis and Tupelo. We now enter the territory where Elvis tasted much success before he broke nationwide: Louisiana. In a strange turn of events, Elvis appeared first at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, to little acclaim, supporting Hank Snow. Shortly after Elvis became a weekly regular on the Louisiana Hayride, based in Shreveport, Louisiana, whence many country legends (Hank Williams among them) moved to Nashville. Alas, we will have no time or song to make a turn to Shreveport, but we”ll visit two cities in the state.

.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I was entirely oblivious to a place called Baton Rouge until, as a young man, I read John Kennedy Toole”s wonderful novel, Confederacy of Dunces, which mentions the city. I loved the name. But we have no time to hang aorund in the state capital of Louisiana, so we move on to the city in which Confederacy of Dunces is set. As we set off in our eight-wheel truck (the beauty of this journey is that we can travel by any mode of transport of our fancy) we spot a pretty hitchhiker. We stop and let her (Bobby by name, as it turns out) and the suddenly appearing boyfriend in “” and just in time, too, because it looks like rain, and the poor fellow looks as faded as his jeans. The whole way down to New Orleans we exhaust our song repertoire, with Bobby”s handclaps and the windscreen wiper keeping the rhythm.
Kris Kristofferson ““ Bobby McGee.mp3

.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The city of legends has popularised the idea of Mardi Gras, which idiots around the world have a way of scheduling all year round (it is, of course, the carnival before the season of Lent). More lately, New Orleans has become a symbol of George W Bush”s callous incompetence. There are hundreds of songs about New Orleans “” perhaps only New York among jock-a-moUS cities has been the subject of lyrics more frequently “” so the challenge here was to identify three top tunes that mention in the title neither the city nor its state, nor Mardi Gras, nor Bourbon Street nor the Latin Quarter (though one does so partly), nor houses of rising suns. So here we entertain ourselves with a trio of songs about a parade confrontation between “tribes” of African-American Mardi gras reveller; a love song for a prostitute (Steely Dan rocking the pedal steel!); and the tale of a hoofer (the version here was not featured in my recent Bojangles line up). The first of these songs became famous in the version by the Dixie Cups, renamed Iko Iko; this is the 1953 original by Sugar Boy Crawford, who co-wrote it with Lloyd Price.
Sugar Boy Crawford & his Cane Cutters – Jock-A-Mo (Iko Iko).mp3
Steely Dan -Pearl Of The Quarter.mp3
Nina Simone – Mr Bojangles.mp3

.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi, pop. 50,000, is another one of those obscure American towns which gained some fame due to American cultural hegemony, thanks to a rather endearing movie featuring Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken, and earlier to Goldie Hawn”s Private Benjamin. Biloxi is well-known also as a casino resort and as the one-time abode of the beautiful Jessica Alba. And now Biloxi attains great fame thanks to Any Major Dude, who”s not even American. More recently, of course, Biloxi was frequently mentioned in association with Hurricane Katrina. So, here we are in Biloxi on the Gulf of Mexico and meet a middle-aged fellow with his young girlfriend. He came from Houston, just left is family behind. Sometimes he goes back to see his family. It doesn”t sound like they are very impressed with him. But our new friend seems to have no regrets. Or does he?
Jack Ingram ““ Biloxi (live).mp3

.
We will leave the former capital of French Louisiana, known then as Bilocci, for the town that had that honour before. Before Biloxi we had visited the city especially built as a capital to succeed it, La Nouvelle-Orléans. The French decided that New Orleans would be safer from hurricanes and flooding”¦ And our next stop will be the city which was the French colony”s first capital.

.

Previously on American Road Trip

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.