FQF Playlist: The French Quarter in Song
All kinds of music float through the French Quarter this weekend. The neighborhood is central to New Orleans music history and the lifeblood of performers today.
Musicians spend so much time here, it’s no wonder French Quarter streets, sites and people gets celebrated in song.
Here’s a list of famous, and infamous, songs that mention “Da Quarters.”
“Salee Dame” tells the tale of a woman who lives by La Rue Dauphine. You can just see her hips shaking when you listen to this version by the Creole Jazz Serenaders. (Thanks American Routes and Nick Spitzer.)
“Goodbye to Storyville” — Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong bemoaning the demise of French Quarter-adjacent Storyville in the 1947 film New Orleans.
“The Real Tina Turner” by David Dondero name-checks Decatur Street’s favorite bar, Molly’s at the Market. (Thanks Abram Himelstein.)
"Border of the Quarter" is quirky crooner Leon Redbone’s shuffling blues love letter to the neighborhood, like seeing a “bedroom by the balcony.”
“Les Oignons” celebrates the days when the French Quarter was filled with the calls of vegetable sellers. Picture their carts and French Market stalls when you hear it. Lots of versions, but we like this one from Sidney Bechet. (Thanks again, American Routes and Nick Spitzer.)
“The Fat Man” finds Fats Domino standing on the corner of Rampart and Canal. And this video finds him playing live with a big band:
“Bourbon St Parade” is the classic for second lining through the French Quarter — or anywhere, really. Grab a handkerchief or an umbrella, hum this tune en masse, and teach some folks how it’s done. Here’s the Preservation Hall Jazz Band taking a turn on the classic.
“Jackson Square” is a Mason Jennings tale of love gone wrong with a girl he met, barefoot on Decatur Street.
“Verti-Marte” is a bit of an experimental song soundscape, honoring the po-boy joint on Royal Street, recorded by the Twilight Singers in 2000.
“South Rampart Street Parade” honors that outer border of The Quarter. Jazz clarinet player Al Hirt shows off his chops on the song with Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.