Saturday, December 17, 2016

10 Songs to Celebrate Mardi Gras

Like Christmas to the rest of the world, Mardi Gras is a big celebration on the Gulf Coast and in particular Louisiana. Being from the Pelican State, I have heard my share of songs that are often played during this time of year. There are some songs that were written specifically for Mardi Gras and about Mardi Gras and some that we down here have adopted. Here are 10 songs to celebrate Mardi Gras with. Some are standards for decades and some have been around for a few years. I am going to list the song and the artist. With the New Orleans Saints making the Super Bowl for the first time, there may be a few more to celebrate that occasion since the first big parades roll during Super Bowl weekend.

10) Iko Iko by the Dixie Cups: This has been a folks standard for years in New Orleans for the Carnival Season. Recorded by local 1960s R&B group the Dixie Cups, Iko Iko became part of the national lexicon thanks to these sisters from the Crescent City.


9) Big Chief by Various Artists: This is a song that pays tribute to the Mardi Gras Indians who are often associated with neighborhood celebrations in New Orleans. The Mardi Gras Indians have been a part of New Orleans since the mid-19th Century. The were first organized to protect neighborhoods and to promote racial equality. Today the Mardi Gras Indian “Tribes” welcome people of all races and genders.


8) Mambo Number 5 by Lou Bega: Though this song isn’t about Mardi Gras, it does have a catchy and danceable rhythm that revellers will swing to in the streets in New Orleans and every other community that has parades. This song was originally recorded in 1949 but Lou Bega released a newer version in 1999 and it has been played at parades ever since.


7) Walking To New Orleans by Fats Domino: Recorded by one of New Orleans’ biggest musical treasures Antionne “Fats” Domino, “Walking To New Orleans” is about going home and celebrating the biggest party in the world. Being a New Orleanian means that no matter where you move to in life New Orleans is still home in many ways. This is an upbeat song that many people can dance a two-step to.


6) Ain’t No Place To Pee On Mardi Gras Day by Benny Grunch and the Bunch: This song pokes fun at one of the biggest logistical problems in the area on Fat Tuesday. Due to an influx of people to the region during Mardi Gras, many business either limit the restroom facilities to ticketed customers, close off the restrooms, or shut down for the day. With many people consuming various types of fluids, it creates a problem during the parades and festivities. Many communities address the problem but it has little effect. This song pokes fun at that problem.


5) It’s Carnival Time by Al Jolson: Though he was from New York, Al Jolson is considered by many to be a major contributor to Jazz Music. Jolson was also famous for his role in the first feature film to have sound, 1927’s “The Jazz Singer”. Jolson was no stranger to the fact that New Orleans is the Birthplace of Jazz and the great city’s culture. He came up with this song to make something the people in New Orleans could relate to. Relate to it they did and it is now a standard among Mardi Gras Playlists.


4) Jenny Says by Cowboy Mouth: New Orleans’ party rock band Cowboy Mouth released this song in the late 90s and it sees some play on television programs and some radio shows throughout the land. It is not a song about Mardi Gras but it is a good fast and heavy beat that people in Louisiana love. This song is often the opening number at many Cowboy Mouth concerts.


3) Madri Gras Mambo by the Meters: This was played long before the Meters recorded it. New Orleans’ band who brought in Funk Music put it on one of their albums and it is played at parades all throughout the region. If you go to a parade this year listen to the chorus “Mardi Gras Mambo Mambo Mambo, Mardi Gras Mambo Mambo Mambo, Mardi Gras Mambo, down in New Orleans” and you will know it is Mardi Gras time.


2) Second Line Song (Part 1) by Stop Inc.: This song has a ring to it similar to Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” and promotes one of the most famous things about New Orleans; the Second Line parades. Often seen at Mardi Gras, Jazz Funerals, and when there’s a reason to celebrate, the second line is as much a part of New Orleans as is Gumbo and the French Quarter. This song was played when New Orleans’ former hockey team, The Brass, would score a goal. It is also a part of the Mardi Gras legacy in the state.


1) Go To The Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair: Often referred to as one of the founding fathers of Rock and Roll, Professor Longhair was a New Orleans native who sang about his home town and took it to the world. Professor Longhair has played with some of the greats from Louis Armstrong to a young Harry Connick Jr. and one of the Big Easy’s most famous concert halls, Tipitina’s, is named after one of his songs. Another of his songs emulates the beginning of a parade with a warm up roll on the piano which starts into a driving beat and then is accompanied by a whistle of a tune. Joyful lyrics are then added and the song winds down with a whitsle solo.


If the Saints win the Supoer Bowl, there could possibly be the addition of “The Saints Are Coming” and “When The Saints Go Marching In” if the boys in Black and Gold win the big game. These 10 songs are among many that can be heard on the streets, parade floats, car stereos, and bars and clubs in Louisiana around this time of year. These songs are festive and special among the hearts of people who live here on the Gulf Coast and I’m sure will be embedded in the minds of those who come here to visit and return home.


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