concrete blonde

Well before I ever set foot in the city of New Orleans, impressions about its rough, spooky charms were set for me. Movies fed my notions, but a more significant part of the mural was colored in by music. Since the place is absolutely overloaded with music history, it was always easy to find bands and artists who hailed from the Crescent City. But, somewhat oddly, one of my most distinctive and enduring tracks evoking New Orleans came from an act that set up their home base over one thousand miles away.

As I’ve recounted on more than one occasion, Concrete Blonde was one of my bands when I qualified for the descriptor in the term student-run radio. Their most significant albums landed on the new releases shelf during my youthful tenure, and the combination of punchy, driving guitar music and Johnette Napolitano’s shredding vocal  were ideal suited to my tastes. Over and over, I returned to their albums when I was on the air, with Bloodletting, released in 1990, undeniably in the lead.

It’s the title cut, employing gothic creep in both the music and lyrics, that comes echoing in my head whenever I’m in New Orleans. The reason is fairly simple. It’s right there in the lyrics:

I got the ways and means
To New Orleans
I’m going down by the river
Where it’s warm and green
I’m gonna have a drink and walk around
I got a lot to think about

That’s it. That’s my experience when I’m among the Creole cottages and booze-spattered streets. The world slows down to accommodate strolls, sips, spirited conversations, and heavy thinking. That’s what I’ve always found in New Orleans, and Concrete Blonde was the band that told me to expect it.

Listen or download –> Concrete Blonde, “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”

(Disclaimer: As hyperlinked above, I’ve brought Concrete Blonde to this weekly dance before, at least in part because I believe a significant amount of their discography is unavailable, at least as physical objects that can procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the original artist and the proprietor of said store. Although I’m neglecting the research that could confirm or deny this speculation, Bloodletting may very well be an album that still be acquired, if only because it contains “Joey,” the band’s sole excursion into the Billboard Top 40. If that’s the case, let the sharing of this song be enticement to go buy the entire album. It’s choice, start to finish. Or buy a different Concrete Blonde release. They are one of the bands that is likely well-served by a “greatest hits” type collection. Regardless, go spend money on some records. You’ll be glad you did.)

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