This morning I discovered a decades-old warning about New Orleans’ fate. It didn’t come from FEMA or a satellite photo. It is from the prophetic 1975 album Fire on the Bayou by New Orleans’ greatest funk band, the Meters. Consider:
1. “Out in the Country.” An ode to leaving the city. “Pack my things and hit the road/Bought some brand new tires for my Ford.” See, it wasn’t all looting.
2. “Fire on the Bayou.” Speaks for itself, though the lyrics are more a foreshadowing of what comes after the conflagration (“One buy the fifth/One buy the joint/We’re getting down now/Going to do things right/Got your fire on the bayou/Fire on the bayou”).
3. “Love Slip Up On Ya.” Even after the most painful ordeal, love finds you. Or is it a political prophecy? “You better watch out who/You give your loving to/You better watch out who/You give your loving to now”?
4. “Talking About New Orleans.” A friend from Spain called today to see how I was and tell me that the destruction of New Orleans is all that’s on the news there. It’s true all over the planet. Any wonder people are: “Talking ’bout, talking ’bout New Orleans.”
5. “They All Asked for You.” Web sites are filled with New Orleanians looking all over for each other. “I went on down/To the Audubon Zoo/And they all asked for you/The monkeys asked/The tigers asked/And the elephant asked me, too.”
1. “Can You Do Without?” A rhetorical question, made sadder when you listen to the words. “Can you do without your brother?/Can you do without your sister?/Can you do without another?”
2. “Liar.” FEMA Director Michael Brown’s doing a heck of a job? Say no more. “You took my life/So take my soul/That’s what you say/And I believe it all.”
3. “You’re a Friend of Mine.” See, “Liar.” Lyrics: “You’re around me all the time/Smiling in my face/But you’re trying to take my place/But you say you’re a friend of mine.” The double-entendre meaning of “you’re trying to take my place” was never recognized until this week.
4. “Middle of the Road.” A melancholy instrumental, it’s where many of the storm’s refugees ended up.
5. “Running Fast.” That’s what looters were doing. “Running fast, running fast/You can’t hide from me.”
6. “Mardi Gras Mambo.” The final affirmation that New Orleans will rise again. “Down in New Orleans where the blues was born/It takes a cool cat to blow a horn/On LaSalle and Rampart Street/The combos play with a mambo beat/Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo/Mardi Gras mambo, mambo, mambo/Mardi Gras mambo, down in New Orleans.”