". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Original Cain't Touch: Dr. John's Zu Zu Mamou

We' ve been on a fairly constant rotation of New Orleans music, because it's Mardi Gras (despite 10 inches of snow, rain and whatever else has been falling since about 2 AM this morning and is projected to continue until about 8 AM tomorrow), and because these two weeks are the New Orleans unit of of the class.

Anyone who doesn't know what "Zu Zu Mamou" is,  I'm sayin' go here:

This is from Mac's Night Tripper days. What has been striking particularly lately is how good, way back when, in the '60's and '70's his straight up African beds and backs are -- I mean real as opposed to pretense or imitation.  In those days too, the studios were just starting to play with overdub  --  so the whole production is there, at the same time, in the studio, on the tracks.

If the bone rattles and the "snake aiggs" whispers running on top the foreground instumentation at the end aren't on the track, ya gotta find one that has it.   This is the real New Orleans hoodoo.  Vampires? WTF you talkin'?  This is New Orleans, man.  It hadn't yet been invaded by Ann Rice ....

ZU ZU MAMOU by Dr. John
Zu Zu Mamou with your pig tail on
Say somebody crossed you now your mind is gone
If it hurts you too bad, call for help
Don’t be ashamed to call the Doctor
When there ain’t nobody left
Tell you now
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
You say somebody’s rippin’ out your mind
If you feel in your heart that you so inclined
If you feel like you too strung out and too ashamed
Don’t look at me, if you’re lookin’ for somebody to blame
Just say,
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Tell me who’s little who do you think you are
Tell me who’s little what’s you trying to be a star
Tell me why you try to act that way
You know, I ain’t the fool that I was yesterday
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
You say somebody stole a strand of your hair
You know it’s missing, but you don’t know where
If you feel somebody’s tryin’ to rip off your mind
If you feel in yourself that you so inclined
Go ahead and cop out
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
He: You know, big mama?
She: That’s the one.
He: She’s got all the Zu Zu ?
She: She stole it from – Hoodoo.
He: She beat him ?
She: She beat him.
He: On the street like that?
She: Yes.
He: For all the Zu Zu ?
She: All the Voodoo.
He: All the Hoodoo too?
She: Voodoo.
He: Just the Voodoo and the Zu Zu ?
She: And the Hoodoo.
He: And the Hoodoo ?
She: Yeah.
He: She beat him for everything what he had?
She: And the goofer dust too.
He: Oooooooooooooooooooooooh !
She burned candles on him too ?
She: And she used a snake eggs
He: Uh-oh I don’t like those snake eggs
She: No, they grow plenty.
He: If they come in my Zu Zu, I have snake in my legs
She: I know, and then you’ll have eggs in your head.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Go ahead and cop out and tell me all about it
Tie a rag around your head, run through the street and shout it
Go ahead and tell Dr. John all about it, I want you too
Zu Zu Mamou say what ya wanna, tell me how you feel
I won’t tell you nothin’ make ya feel bad, it ain’t no big deal
Do what ya wanna, please, don’t feel bad about it, come on bother me
And we gonna all run down the street with a rag on our heads & shout it.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Zu Zu Mamou
I found this artist, doing this, on my own, when I was a tad.  It was my first introduction to New Orleans. And how I cam across  him I have no recollection, but I'd been fascinated by West Indian and Gulf African-American culture via poetry for years already. Ever since I came into possession of The Poetry of the Negro 1746 - 1949 (1949) edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps the fascination grew.

I still have the volume, which is falling apart now
Where I grew up there was little to no scope for learning more.  However, my inner eye was always open, and thus I ran into this a few short years later.

Followed by

This is the stuff.  Who else could write something like this?  Not anybody in The Originals's writers room.

Alas, I had to absorb a lot more education to appreciate all the Prof Longhair and other New Orleans's musical traditions of which Mac's the master -- and even longer to live there.  But I did get there all right.  I sure did.

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