Happy Mardi Gras -- And Why "Toulouse Street" is the Best New Orleans Song Not Written by a Louisiana Native
It’s Lundi Gras as I type this — which means New Orleans is gearing up for tomorrow's Fat Tuesday circus. Last weekend assuredly sizzled, and the krewes of Orpheus, Zeus and Proteus roll today. Carnival season has reached a full boil — except for the fact that Harry Connick, Jr. did not invite me to be King of Orpheus.
For that matter, no one else down there asked me to be King of Anything.
I’m pretty sure I at least qualify to be King of Loser-ness, but I’m not sure there’s a krewe for such things.
In any event, I’m not going to be in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras Day and, if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t, either.
In that spirit, I’ve decided to declare to the world the best song ever about New Orleans — that wasn’t written by someone from New Orleans or Louisiana.
I’ve thought about this a lot and decided that it’s “Toulouse Street” by the Doobie Brothers — or, more specifically, by the mucho underrated Doobie guitarist Patrick Simmons. The music is haunting and evocative, the lyrics absolutely nail a certain humid, late-night desperation in the streets of the Quarter, and it’s just one of my favorite songs ever.
To hear “Toulouse Street” is a stunningly evocative experience, and I wonder if Simmons has ever been asked to be King of a Mardi Gras krewe. Probably not — although if Luke Perry can be King of Bacchus (and I believe he once was), well, you never know.
I suspect “Toulouse Street,” despite being the title cut on the Doobie’s best selling 1972 album, is far too obscure to have garnered much attention — in New Orleans or elsewhere. In any event, have a listen and see what you think. Even if you've never been down to Sweet Home NOLA, it's a killer song.
But I will definitely include it on my playlist of indigenous Mardi Gras anthems over the next 24 hours.
Throw me some chords, Patrick!
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