We are merely scraping the edge of the Pelican State to catch an interview or two and eat until our hearts’ content and our stomachs’ uncomfortably-full content. While we languish, here are some tunes that feel like the bayou and mention some locales from the only state with parishes instead of counties. Also, worth noting: two songs on this list are by Alabama-named bands. Weird.
House of the Rising Sun: You knew this one was going to be on here, right? Any list of songs about Louisiana’s favorite city must include this foreboding rocker of a hit. Everyone and their mom has covered this song and I know people’s partialness can be a point of contention. We will go with the classic one from the Animals. But let me go afield for this one and also suggest the Blind Boys of Alabama’s rendition of Amazing Grace sung to the tune of Rising Sun. It just works.
Your Lips: One of the most stand-out things about the crazy-good TV series, Treme, was the music. New Orleans—specifically the Treme—exudes music of all types and the show often pauses to showcase the variety and depth of the music. This song was so background in a music festival scene that it felt more like a lens filter than a filmic element. Then I checked out the soundtrack from the public library and it became one of my favorites on the CD.
Jambalaya: Thibodaux, Fontaineaux—we’re gonna have some fun on the bayou. This standard has been sung by all in praise of the soggy fun, the festivities of the lesser-known areas around Louisiana. For my money, I’ll take Fats Domino’s vocals. And even though she has a voice like an angel, don’t come at me with the Karen Carpenter version.
If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band): This song is pure country junk. I mean, I want to dislike it, but goddamn, I can’t help but love it. Miracle turns this song on and the both of us just go nuts. It’s like a sugar rush or something. I don’t know. Plus, the way the guy doing the backing vocals completely loses his shit every 75 seconds on cue is endlessly entertaining. Just get out of earshot of anyone you want to respect you and turn this one up.
Tangled up in Blue: Dylan mentions Louisiana more than once in his catalog, but I’ll go with one of the most beloved Dylan songs ever written where he at one point finds himself on a fishing boat outside of Delacroix. Do I have a favorite version? Depends on how I’m feeling. I love the sparseness of the Rolling Thunder Revue version, the lyrical variation of the one off Real Live, the sudden opener of the album version, and the elegant arrangement of the Grand Ballad style. But I got to say, the last time I saw him play Tangled, he included a verse I never heard before that felt funereal and it shook me. Whatever version I’m listening to—that’s my favorite.