30
Oct 14

The stories behind the songs

Join us tonight, 30 October, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM, for a music-themed book festival to kick off the Louisiana Festival of Books. LSU Press authors Barbara Barnes Sims (author of The Next Elvis), John Wirt (author of Huey “Piano” Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues), and Alex Cook (author of Louisiana Saturday Night) will be at Lagniappe Records to sign their books. You’ll get to meet our authors and receive 20% off books and records! This event is free and open to the public.

In the run-up to the Lagniappe signing, our own Alex Cook put together a Spotify playlist for his book. Here it is–enjoy!

A lot of driving went into writing Louisiana Saturday Night, and driving always means music to me. Some of these selections like J. Paul Jr or Joe Falcon were about getting me in the mood for the music I was about to witness at some far-off location. Songs like “Whipping Post” just open up a time-tunnel that can get a weary driver down a lonely highway home in one piece. Most of these were happenstance: the CD my frequent traveling companion Clarke Gernon was into at the moment. One I was into. I’d just seen Calexico play at JazzFest and couldn’t get “Not Even Stevie Nicks…” out of my head for a month.

One selection holds a particular memory: I was on some St. Landry Parish backroad, totally lost, listening to K-BON out of Rayne, La. and the announcer was talking about the time he got to meet Charles Mann at some festival appearance. he brought his grandson up to meet him as well and the pride and admiration in that moment was palpable; it filled the dark car with light. You’d have thought he was talking about meeting Elvis or Muhammad Ali or something. I never really liked the original Dire Staits version of “Walk of Life’ but in Charles Mann’s flattened delivery over an accordion shuffle, “the song about the sweet lovin’ woman/the song about the knife” – the whole of that song came clear and I understood something profound about swamp pop and Louisiana music in general. It is important because it is peculiar in nature and bizarrely extant in the face of the monoculture, but it is special because the people of Louisiana make it special.