64 Parishes

NOLA 300 Music

“Muskrat Ramble,” “Blue Monday,” Mahalia, Metal

Musicians, authors, artists, filmmakers and others share their favorite New Orleans songs

Published: September 3, 2018
Last Updated: December 3, 2018

“Muskrat Ramble” was written by Kid Ory and he recorded it for Okeh in 1926, as a member of Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5. What I love is, it is a perfect representation of New Orleans jazz polyphony and collective improvisation played by the artists who had forged the style together a decade earlier in Kid Ory’s New Orleans band. You can just hear the ragtime origins of the piece, yet, at the same time, the dividing line in American music represented by the arrival of Louis Armstrong. – John McCusker, author of Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz

There was one song I did with Walter “Wolfman” Washington that’s a really good duet, that I think is one of his better recordings: “Even Now.” It’s a nice song, and one among several favorites. There’s also “For the Rest of My Life”—that’s about people making up their mind to get married. I also like “Forever Young,” because I dedicate that one to my fans. And Mahalia Jackson – —she’ll always be a giant to gospel fans and a giant to me. As far as I’m concerned, I love all her stuff. – Soul queen Irma Thomas, who made her first recording at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio in 1960. She cut “Even Now” as a duet with longtime friend and collaborator Walter “Wolfman” Washington for his 2018 album My Future is My Past, and pays tribute to the great Mahalia Jackson with an annual gospel set at Jazz Fest.

Irma Thomas’s voice stayed in my head all the time. And it still does. Her delivery—she nails it every time. - Allen Toussaint, speaking to Gambit Weekly in 2007

When I first heard “Temptation’s Wings” from Down, I was floored: it had everything I love in one song. The badass riffs reminiscent of Sabbath; the heavy groove and syncopation you find in metal only from musicians that grew up in New Orleans, topped with the iconic vocals and lyrics from one of the best frontmen and vocalists of all time. Still in my top rotation after all of these years! – Sean Yseult, White Zombie bassist and visual artist

“Blue Monday” is his favorite song of all time because it tells how everyday life goes on those particular days throughout the week. And he had no paper, so he wrote it on toilet paper! – Music producer Don Bartholomew talking about his father Dave Bartholomew, the iconic trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter, and arranger whose creative partnership with Fats Domino helped define rock and roll