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Dixie Flyer

June 16, 2010

I’ve always associated trains with death. I guess it’s my inner history buff: tales of what happened when Lincoln and FDR’s funeral trains crossed the country resonate with me. I also associate trains with grim things from listening to early rock-n-roll, Delta blues and vintage country. There’s a reason that Johnny Cash both wore black and wrote and sang a lot of train tunes. My mama done told me…

When Annie and her new sidekick were shown playing Randy Newman’s Dixie Flyer on the Square, it merely confirmed my feeling of foreboding that had started when Creighton taught Kate Chopin‘s The Awakening to his freshman survey class. Creigh was also eerily quiet and subdued (as opposed to the Subdudes song that played over the closing credits)  in the last few episodes for such a loud, bumptious man, which was why slipping away over the side of the ferry was an inspired choice by team Treme. I’m relieved, however, that he didn’t actually go to the West Bank, which is something that makes me break out in hives. Note: the last remark is a lame JOKE I’ve been making for years as a semi-snotty Uptowner contemplating the West Bank. In fact, it’s a joke so old that it has whiskers on it and I can’t even tell the Yasir Arafat variation any more, which was obviously even hairier or is that stubblier?

Yeah, I know, the song Dixie Flyer has got nothing to do with death but I wanted to lighten things up a bit after that harrowing episode and the train song gave me an excuse. So sue me. Anyway,  it’s an autobiographical tune about Newman’s younger self and his “poor little mama” returning to the Gret Stet from Los Angeles while his father fought in the big one: World War II. The studio version features some wonderful finger picking by the great Mark Knopfler but the video below features Mr. Newman solo:

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16 Comments
  1. June 16, 2010 1:51 pm

    I got creeped out when Annie was playing with her new guy too. I think I mentioned it in another thread.

  2. June 16, 2010 2:11 pm

    At least it’ s not a North-bound train; quite the opposite of the train image usually associated with death. In the context of the teary Lakeview “tourist”, the reappearance of Lil’ Bouncer and the whole episode (land of Davis dreams v. Janette’s drive for success), its another example of how creative the use of music in this show is, and how complexly layered everything is. Grad students will be taking this apart shot-by-shot if not frame-by-frame years from now.

  3. adrastosno permalink
    June 16, 2010 2:29 pm

    I call him Tiny Dancer because it works so well with a particular old pop song; even the LA lady bit…

  4. June 16, 2010 2:43 pm

    Tiny Dancer? Thanks for the ear worm. May a thousand flat tubas buskers descend upon your shop like fleas from a camel.

  5. brueso permalink
    June 16, 2010 3:11 pm

    “Dixie Flyer” has long-time been a favorite of mine by Newman. And it made me realize that Newman was one of the ways I found out about this exotic city New Orleans way back when. I saw the Saturday Night Live episode they shot there at Mardi Gras back in the day (1977 maybe?) and Newman played “Louisiana 1927″ with a full orchestra backing him.

  6. brueso permalink
    June 16, 2010 3:14 pm

    and love the line in “Dixie Flyer”- ‘dressed as black as a crow in a coalmine’

  7. June 16, 2010 3:42 pm

    “Ballereeeeenuhhhhh, you must have seen her. Dancing in the sand.” Sorry, mf, couldn’t resist. The best cure for a bad case of earworms is doing math in your head. Trust me on this one.

    Adrastos, timely post. I was just reading about Newman’s Louisiana connection and the decisions that put him back in L.A.

  8. June 16, 2010 3:47 pm

    “We have been getting several complaints from the citizen groups complaining about the street musicians and the late night loud music.”

    Looks like Davis’s neighbor found himself some friends in the VCPORA.

  9. June 16, 2010 4:42 pm

    “I’ve always associated trains with death.”
    That sounds like a line written by Harry Crews.

  10. June 16, 2010 4:46 pm

    You are right to the extent that we really don’t know if Criegh can’t swim, now can we? It’s a colorful character we will loose( hope he comes back as a ghost of some sort…..if it can be done amywhere, it can be done in the VOODOO city!). We shall find out Sunday.

  11. adrastosno permalink
    June 16, 2010 4:48 pm

    Thanks, Varg. What a lovely compliment. I met Harry a couple of times. Interesting guy.

  12. June 16, 2010 5:37 pm

    We you jump in the Old Man, it don’t matter if you can swim.

  13. June 16, 2010 5:38 pm

    I’m deep into “Childhood” right now.
    I’ve always associated trains with God. Which is sort of like associating them with death.

  14. liprap permalink
    June 16, 2010 7:32 pm

    Hold me closer tiny bouuuuncer….

    Dammit, now I’m doing it, too.

  15. June 18, 2010 8:28 am

    Better watch out Mark. The malaka of the week might waiting in your inbox someday ;)

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