Louisiana 1927 – Randy Newman

Randy Newman is an American singer/songwriter,   arranger, composer, and pianist who is notable for his mordant (and often satirical) pop songs and for his many film scores.

Newman is noted for his practice of writing lyrics from the perspective of a character far removed from Newman’s own biography. For example, the 1972 song “Sail Away” is written as a slave trader’s sales pitch to attract slaves, while the narrator of “Political Science” is a U.S. nationalist who complains of worldwide ingratitude toward America and proposes a brutally ironic final solution. One of his biggest hits, “Short People” was written from the perspective of “a lunatic”  who hates short people. Since the 1980s, Newman has worked mostly as a film composer. His film scores include Ragtime, Awakenings, The Natural, Leatherheads, James and the Giant Peach, Meet the Parents and Seabiscuit.

Louisiana 1927

Sung from the perspective of a neutral narrator recounting the flooding of Saint Bernards and Plaquemines parishes during the flood, “Louisiana 1927″ features lyrics that depict the lament of the residents of those parishes in the aftermath of the flood. In particular, the narrator lays out the widespread nature of the destruction (“river has busted through clear down to Plaquemine”) and the volume of water the flood produced (“six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline”). Also touched on is the callous response of the federal government, embodied by the appearance of President Calvin Coolidge, whose reaction to the devastation is a disingenuous “ain’t it a shame”, followed by his calling the people of the area “crackers”, an epithet.

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What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through cleard down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, “Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has
done
To this poor crackers land.”

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away

  • Audio from the 1974 album, Good Old Boys:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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