Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Curtis "Rooster" Wheeler: Katrina Blues


Rooster (b. Curtis Wheeler, 10/5/1937) cut "Katrina Blues" for a CD of the same name in 2006. This dapper dude will be 70 later this year. Walking along Bourbon Street, I heard his electric blues guitar above the din of a packed karaoke joint, a jazz club and a Zydeco band all competing for attention at the same intersection. Though it was just him, a synthesizer and a sax player, he won in my book. Hard to deny the blues their due.

Here's my rough transcript of the lyrics to "Katrina Blues." Not sure if Rooster wrote them, but I do know it's completely different from a song with the same title by Reggie Miles, another bluesman also very much worth checking out. Where Miles' song is slower, more traditional and more old school, Rooster's song feels like a combo of electric B.B. King and Marvin Gaye's early 70s sound, with lyrics comparable in attitude to John Lee Hooker's "Motor City Is Burning."

"Katrina Blues"

I been down so low
I had to look up to see my shoes
I been down so low
I had to look up to see my shoes
I lost my wife to a Red Cross worker
I got them lowdown Katrina blues.

Can't find my brother
My brother's at the Superdome
Lord, I can't find my brother
My brother's stuck at the Superdome
All the politicians fuss and fight
They don't know what the hell is goin' on.

Levee broke and flood the city
I lost my car and my home
Yeah, the levee broke and flood New Orleans
I lost my car and my home
Ain't got no checks from FEMA
Everything I got, I got it on.

It get cold in the city
I got a blue roof to keep me warm
Yeah, it's gotten cold in New Orleans
I got nothin' but a blue roof to keep me warm
I can't go outside
All the po'lice around me with them big ol' guns.

The levee broke and flood the city
I lost my car and my home
Yeah, the levee broke and flood New Orleans
I lost my car and my home
Ain't got no checks from FEMA
Everything I got, I got it on.

Katrina, Katrina
Oh, what you tryin' to do to me?
Katrina, Katrina
Just look what you're doin' to me
Got me down on Bourbon Street
Some place I don't want to be.


Today's Rune: Fertility.

Bon Voyage!

6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Great post. Katrina didn't have any of the good elements of feminity. She deserves all the names she got called.

Sheila said...

I seriously feel bad for anyone who is named Katrina.... they got a bad rap now.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Sure beats rap, too.

Lana said...

After returning home after Katrina, I was inspired to buy a t-shirt in the Quarter that says "FEMA Evacuation Plan; Run MotherFucker Run!"
Perhaps I should have thought ahead to where I might wear it, though. It has become my "house shirt." I forgot I was wearing it one day & didn't remember until I figured out why I was getting all those strange looks at WalMart. D'oh!

Erik Donald France said...

Jim, I love jazz and like Zydeco, but rap, yes -- a little goes a long way. As for karaoke, blech.

Lana, I saw some shirts like that and was tempted to grab one, but am still having the same "where can I waer this" issues as you -- it's hard enough to find a place to wear my Iggy "Raw Fucking Power" Pop shirt as is.

Bubs said...

My bride sports a tee shirt that says
FEMA: Fix Everything My Ass

It's not as bold a statement as "Run Motherf*cker Run" but it's a little more family-friendly.