Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dogs, New Orleans, and the Talkin’ Blues

“Here comes that new dog.
He don’t know nothin’ but those same old dog tricks.
Roll over and play dead
Won’t fetch you nothin’ but that chewed-up, nasty old stick.”

A song named “New Dog Blues” begins with that clever bit of phrasing – “fetch” fits so perfectly there, wouldn’t you agree?

The wordplay and vivid imagery is an ideal set-up for the rest of the tune, which is rife with double-entendres about bone-burying, leg-funniness and such.

The writing credit for this little ditty goes to Rachelle Garniez, renowned as a prolific writer and somewhat off-beat performer. The accordion, it seems, is her instrument.

I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Garniez had the voice of Ingrid Lucia in her “mind’s ear” while creating her lyrical poetry. But the Flying Neutrino’s 1999 CD I’d Rather be in New Orleans, which includes this track, lends credence to the notion.

It’s likely you’ve heard Ingrid Lucia’s voice at some time or other. The Neutrino’s swing tune “Mr. Zoot Suit” shoulders its way into some of the little nooks and crannies of pop culture from time to time. ("When you see him drive by with that big cheroot, Don't forget to shout, 'Hey, Mr. Zoot Suit!'")

Like wordsmith Garniez, Lucia and her bandmates have had their share of oddity, operating for a while as The Floating Neutrinos.

“New Dog Blues” was written and rendered in a style that conjures images of blues women like Ruth Brown or Ella Mae Morse. I can only imagine the kind of fun another Ella and her trumpet-playing pal Louis could have had with it.

Maybe The Manhattan Transfer should take a crack at it.

Speaking of dogs and New Orleans…

The inimitable Dr. John broached the issue of canine habits in 1992 when he recorded “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark (When You Come ‘Round)” for his Goin’ Back to New Orleans CD (or could it still have been an album or cassette tape in ’92?).

As you might deduce from the title, it’s a tune about infidelity and revenge. The speaker of these “talkin’ blues” ultimately exacts his revenge with the most elaborately-described switch-blade in the history of human discourse. He caps it off by saying:

“And if you don’t believe* that, just shake yo’ head;
It’ll be singing ‘I Ain’t Got No Body.’”

(* I’m not really sure I can reproduce in mere letters the way Dr. John pronounces this word.)

I’ve always been a “mark” for punnery – the more groan-inducing, the better.

Here's a version of the tune by an old Louisiana bluesman. (There are a couple of pretty good Dr. John versions on YouTube, but I think it's easier to focus on the neat lyric without the crowd noise and instrumental interludes.)