It starts off with a song that would not have been out of place at Don Corneolo’s daughter’s wedding, just another red sauce joint juke box favorite pouring out like red wine on your checkered table, and then–suddenly–Louis Prima breaks into scat and the tempo jumps into classic New Orleans R&B-influence rock and roll until the saxophone solo kicks in and suddenly you’re not in Tony’s on Bourbon but sitting in Cosimo Matassa’s studio in the musical cradle of New Orleans.
Buona Sera is a perfect segue from Davis McAlary’s suggestion that the city would be better run by the mafia than FEMA or it’s current leadership, but what I remember most is the sequence of fixed shots of the city in the dark ending in the one of three white garbage bags rising up on the wind like ghosts out of the ground ascending to heaven, one of the most beautiful and apocalypticly perfect things I’ve ever seen on a screen.
That’s what happens when you sit down to listen to the Treme Soundtrack, which I picked up around Christmas but have manage to put off writing about here for the past month or more. You are swept back into moments in the show by every song, the music such an integral part of every place it is used, the songs chosen with as much care as casting actors.
As a longtime van of the Jazz Vipers and frequenter of the Spotted Cat, I remember the joy when they placed Annie sitting in to “I Hope You’re Coming Back to New Orleans”, and I can’t listen to Antoine Batiste crooning the beautiful “I Don’t Stand A Ghost of a Chance (With You)” without remembering how the scene ends, with him stumbling into the NOPD cruiser and down on the ground.
I’ve loaned out my copy so I don’t know the release date but on the Treme web page it is listed as a nominee for best record of 2010. I know several BOT correspondents attended the “Soundtrack Release Party” and even with my craftily hustled by Ms. Jasper VIP upgrade none of us–myself, Ray Shea and his girlfriend, or Sam Jasper–could find hide nor hair of the CD in evidence, so I waited and waited and it wasn’t until it jumped out at me on the New Orleans Music Factory table at Gumbo Fest that I picked up a copy, and I’ve been swept down memory lane ever since.
Irma Thomas singing “Time Is On My Side” takes me back to the debates we had here (and with at least one of the writers) over whether Antoine was a reader, remembering how relieved he looked when Allen Toussaint told him they’d be recording from the original charts. The recorded vocals from the Indian memorial interrupted by the tour bus took me back in my mind not only to that moment in the show but also to stellar New Orleans blogger Clifton Harris describing how a tour bus stopped as he cleaned out the Ninth Ward home where his grandmother died. I get lost when Free Agent’s Brass Band starts up “We Came Through That Water,” too overwhelmed by the desire to dance to remember the scene associated with it. (Bullet’s? I don’t recall. Someone here will no doubt remind me in the comments).
As we while away the days with HBO re-runs (and me currently with no HBO) and resist the temptation to pick up some wings and bootleg DVDs at, uh, this place I know, the CD will have to do to get me ready for the coming season. Be sure to watch this space as we get closer to the new season. We’ve got to get through Carnival and all but things should pick up soon. Until then, ladies and gentlemen, please rise for Our Natural Anthem.
P.S. Canzione, Italian for song, is right out of Babelfish and no I don’t know if it’s masculine or feminine so the title has a 50/50 chance of being wrong. Hey, you want gender agreement with that, baby, it’s extra.
P.P.S.–On behalf of the entire male gender we wish to know why Annie isn’t listed under Characters in the categories.