Tuesday, September 23, 2014

High Water Friends CD - Track Four: The Thrill is Gone

          Now that we’ve completed the Davis Rogan portion of our program, it’s time to move on to Warren Prejean and the Zydeco Rhythm & Blues Band. The first song from Prejean and the Zydeco Rhythm & Blues Band is the classic blues song, The Thrill is Gone. 

Warren Prejean on the Rub board 

          Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell, two blues musicians, penned The Thrill is Gone in 1951. Hawkins’ recording of the song reached #6 on the Billboard music charts in 1951. Hawkins and Darnell derived “The Thrill is Gone” from a song in Broadway revue titled George White's Scandals. That version of the song, performed by Rudy VallĂ©e and His Connecticut Yankees, had reached the tenth spot on the charts in 1931. The Hawkins-Darnell song endured and has become a staple of blues musicians ever since. B.B. King’s 1969 interpretation of The Thrill is Gone became his biggest hit. It climbed to #3 on the R&B charts and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The recording of the song won King a Grammy in 1970. When Rolling Stone Magazine listed the 500 greatest songs of all time, it placed King’s version of The Thrill is Gone at 183. Other R&B artists have recorded their own versions as well, including: Aretha Franklin, Luther Allison, Willie Nelson, The Marshall Tucker Band, and Little Milton.

The sheet music to The Thrill is Gone
          The lyrics of The Thrill is Gone exemplify the blues. Defining the blues has always been a tricky proposition. Blues singer Alberta Hunter once tried to explain the blues this way; “Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed.” The Thrill is Gone is a song about a man whose heart has been hurt—in this case by a woman. The man first expresses his anger at the woman who hurt him: “You know you done me wrong baby/And you'll be sorry someday.” The man then describes the sense of emptiness following the breakup, lamenting “The thrill is gone baby… Although I’ll still live on/ But so lonely I’ll be.” The man, however, refuses to let the breakup or the woman’s behavior keep him down permanently. After considering his sadness and depression, he rejoices at being “free from your spell.” Finally having ended the relationship he wishes her well.

This theme of mourning and forgiveness in the blues—a fusion of spirituals, call and response chants, and traditional ballads—emerged out of the history and experience of African American communities in the Deep South, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Reconciling the slave past with an uncertain present required a certain amount of lamentation, strength, and forgiveness.  

“The Thrill Is Gone”

The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
You know you done me wrong baby
And you'll be sorry someday

The thrill is gone
It's gone away from me
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away from me
Although, I'll still live on
But so lonely I'll be

The thrill is gone
It's gone away for good
The thrill is gone baby
It's gone away for good
Someday I know I'll be open armed baby
Just like I know a good man should

You know I'm free, free now baby
I'm free from your spell
Oh I'm free, free, free now
I'm free from your spell
And now that it's all over
All I can do is wish you well

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

High Water Friends CD - Track Two: Take His Keys

          We have now reached the third and final Davis Rogan song featured on High Water Friends. Rogan, in true Davis fashion, claims that this song, titled, Take His Keys, is not autobiographical, merely extensively researched.

If Davis holds his hands like this, you might believe that the song isn't autobiographical. 
           Take His Keys is a bit different from Rogan’s other songs. The New Ninth Ward commented on the failures of the Bush Administration and its response to Hurricane Katrina. It also criticized the gentrification of the city during the rebuilding efforts that threatened to strip away the city’s unique character. Hurricane, meanwhile, offered insight into the attitude of New Orleans residents regarding hurricanes and their steadfast refusal to abandon their city in the midst of major weather events. It embodies both a pre-Katrina mentality and the resilient spirit of the Crescent City. Take His Keys is about none of these things.

Not Davis does not want to wind up here. 
The song, which just to remind you is NOT autobiographical, tells the story of a man, who we will call Not Davis. Not Davis likes to drink and is well known around New Orleans for his alcoholic exploits. The song implores anyone who encounters Not Davis to take his keys, so he will not drive drunk and endanger others. In the song, Not Davis examines the high cost of lawyers versus the low cost of taking a cab. Here, Not Davis, wisely recognizes that taking a cab is the best and safest way to go. He also laments the loss of an unnamed judge who would be lenient towards his behaviors. With the judge gone, Not Davis could face jail for his misbehavior. The underlying message of the song is that for the safety of Not Davis and the residents of New Orleans, somebody should just take his keys.

This is where I usually insert a youtube video of the song, but I couldn't find one. So enjoy Davis at the Louisiana Music Factory in 2011. 

Take His Keys 

Well there’s a man who stalks the city only late at night
All the reports that I’ve received say that the kid ain’t acting right
Pissing off those nice folks uptown, passing out in Marigny
Scarrest thing that I hear they say the dude looks just like me
Said he’s tall, gregarious, full bored and brash,
starts out so loquacious and then he is short on cash

So if you see him out on the street, gonna ax you please,
won’t you do me a favor, baby and baby won’t you take his keys
Say again please, please, please, take his keys, those are my keys too now
I might need to use the car in the morning time, when he’s good to drive, oh please oh please take his keys, take his keys, baby won’t you take his keys 

Say it now, lawyers they’re so expensive their chairs so awfully drab
Ain’t nothing but a couple of bucks worth, so go ahead and call that cab
Ain’t got that judge no more, Ain’t one of those jokes,
next time they pop your ass you’re going to jail like regular folks 

Singing please, please, please, take his keys, those are my keys too now,
I might need to use the car in the morning time, said he’s good to drive
Oh please, oh please, take his keys, take his keys,
 Baby won’t you take his keys, baby won’t you take his keys

Cuz it tastes good to drive, go ahead take his keys 

Monday, September 8, 2014

High Water Friends CD - Track Three: Hurricane

          In New Orleans, the word hurricane has two meanings. One is a force of nature that when unleashed leaves a wake of destruction in its path. The second is a type of weather.

That delicious drink...
          New Orleans has become famous for both types of hurricanes. Popularized in the 1940s at Pat O’Brien’s bar, the hurricane cocktail consists of rum, fruit juice, and grenadine. Since then, this cousin of the daiquiri has become a staple of the French Quarter. Tourists and locals alike tote the brightly colored drinks around in go cups* up and down Bourbon Street. New Orleans also has a long and brutal history with hurricanes that have threatened its very survival. In 1722, a hurricane ruined the young, makeshift settlement and gave birth to the city we know today. In 2005, a hurricane nearly destroyed the beautiful city. Throughout its history, New Orleans was and is a city living on the edge of Mother Nature.

* for the uninitiated, a go cup is precisely what it sounds like, you can get your alcohol at a bar and take it with you when you leave.

The Go-Cup, one of the greatest things about New Orleans.        
          As a result of this reality, residents have developed a stubborn attitude regarding hurricanes. Rather than flee on the oncoming storm, they tempt fate by staying behind. They prefer the safety of their homes over packing into their cars and driving inland. Drinking and listening to music beats sitting in traffic on the I-10 or in a hotel room in Texas. Hurricane parties have become a New Orleans tradition. People gather at someone’s home and consume copious amounts of alcohol—including hurricanes and then ride out the storm in safety.

The Once and Future DJ
           Composed before Hurricane Katrina, Davis Rogan’s song, Hurricane, effectively captures this mentality. The song, fittingly, barely survived Hurricane Katrina. The master copy of Rogan’s first CD, The Once and Future DJ, disappeared in the floodwaters of the Loyola Avenue post office. Luckily the album survived on the hard drive of the CD’s engineer. In the song, Rogan refers to hurricanes Camille and Betsy, two storms that had threatened New Orleans in the 1960s. In 1965, Betsy made landfall close to the city, breaking through the levees and flooding parts of New Orleans. Camille, the stronger of the two storms, struck Mississippi in 1969, largely sparing the city. Rogan’s lyric, “I’ll stay here in New Orleans with a cold drink in my hand” epitomizes this pre-Katrina mentality. He has described the song as “the last hurricane-themed song before Katrina.” While the devastating hurricane of 2005 has forever changed its context and meaning, the song still encapsulates the spirit and attitudes of New Orleans residents. Nature may occasionally wreak havoc on New Orleans, but its residents will always persevere—with a cold drink in their hands.  


Well you standin’ on the corner with your umbrella in your hand

Standin’ on the corner keepin’ out the pourin’ rain

Umbrella won’t help ya when they hit you with the hurricane

I’m-un-ah buy me a pirogue, lash it to my balcony

It’s a little boat baby, nuff room for you and me

When the water comes to meet us, we’ll float on out to sea

Well they all evecuatin’ -- I ain’t goin’

Some folks ain’t waitin’ -- I ain’t goin’

A Category 7 -- I ain’t goin’

Knock us all to heaven - I ain’t goin’

Well I’m stayin’ in New Orleans with a cold drink in my hand

Well they open up the highway, tryin’ to get the contra-flow

Folks is stuck in traffic got no place to go

But I’m kicking it at my house, I won’t say I told you so

My house lasted through Betsy and it stood through Camille

‘Cause back when they built my house they was buildin’ houses for real

I’m-a stay here on the premises so I can be here to deal

Well I got me my water -- I ain’t goin’

Camp stove and a shotgun -- I ain’t goin’

Do what you oughta -- I ain’t goin’

But I’m-un-ah stay here, son --I ain’t goin’

I’ll stay here in New Orleans with a cold drink in my hand

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Puppy!

            What is the big news out of the Laird household this summer? Ryan and I got a new dog. Her name is Hannah and she is a terrier mix. She was born on June 7, so she’s a grand total of twelve weeks old now. As you can see in the pictures below, she is an adorable little puppy. She has a white streak running down the middle of her face and circling around her mouth. She has lots of toys to play with and nice comfy dog bed.

Hannah with one of her toys. 

          Adopting dogs seems to be commonplace at DGA these days. Doug and his wife, Mary, adopted their two current dogs, Judge, a goldendoodle, and Mayday, a golden retreiver. Benson and his wife, Liz, also got one of their dogs, Ruby, from the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in Tylertown, MS. Ryan and I adopted Hannah from the Pearl River SPCA. Pearl River is actually just across the state line in Mississippi. It borders St. Tammany parish (the headquarters of DGA) and is only about a forty five minute drive. We picked Hannah up when she was just eight weeks old. The Pearl River SPCA handles adoptions for both dogs and cats. They also have a fostering program designed to re-integrate abused or neglected animals into healthier environments. They rehabilitate their animals—making sure they are vaccinated and healthy before placing them with new families.  The Pearl River SPCA also partners with the PetSmart in Slidell, Louisiana. Almost every weekend they bring a number of dogs and puppies to the store for adoption. They do good and important work looking after abandoned and neglected animals in our area.

Hannah in her bed. Playing? Sleeping? Both? 
           Hannah is a terrier mix. The American Kennel Club has thirty different breeds of terriers listed on their website. The word terrier comes from the Latin word terra meaning Earth. It also comes from French meaning “to burrow.” Historically, humans have used the terriers’ skill at digging and burrowing to control rat, fox, and rabbit populations. The vast majority of terrier breeds come from Great Britain and Ireland. Over the past few centuries, humans have bred terriers for a variety of purposes including hunting, herding, and as show animals. Some breeds average only about six pounds fully grown while others can go up to as large as seventy pounds. Terriers are affectionate and loyal, but can also be a bit bossy.
Hiding under the furniture. 
          Just looking at her, we think that Hannah definitely has a lot of Boston Terrier in her. Boston Terriers grow to between 10-25 pounds. They have short tails and snouts. The Boston Terrier originated around 1870 as a cross between English bulldogs and early show terriers, like the White English terrier. Hannah is black and white in color, but they can also be dark brown or brindle (a mixture of darker and lighter shades). Boston Terriers are generally strong, friendly, and happy—that’s what Ryan and I are hoping for. They’re eager to please and protective of their owners and territory. They like people and aren’t known for their barking.
The perfect lap/leg dog. 

          Ryan and I are excited to welcome Hannah as the newest member of our family.