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"Louisiana 1927" is a 1974 song telling the story of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that left 700,000 people homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi. The song was written and originally recorded by Randy Newman on the album Good Old Boys.
Sung from the perspective of a nameless resident of the area recounting the flooding of Saint Bernard and Plaquemines parishes during the flood, "Louisiana 1927" features lyrics that depict the devastation of the residents of those parishes in the aftermath of the flood. In particular, the narrator lays out the widespread nature of the destruction ("river had busted through clear down to Plaquemine") and the volume of water the flood produced ("six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline"). Also touched upon is the callous response of the federal government, depicted here via a fictional visit from President Calvin Coolidge and then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, where Coolidge's reaction to the devastation is a detached statement to Hoover that, "isn't it a shame what the river has done to this poor cracker's land."
The song is written in the style of a lament, and is typically performed at a slow tempo. It has been covered many times, but Newman performed the original in the key of G-major. Newman's version starts out with piano solo, but builds into including a whole orchestra. Of particular note is the original recording's use of the triangle, which is prominent.
The song became identified with Hurricane Katrina in the public consciousness after being sung by Aaron Neville at NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief", being sung by Newman at the multi-network television fundraiser "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast," and a fully orchestrated version of the song performed by Newman during Saturday Night Live's Mardi Gras Special. A new recording of the orchestrated version is included on the Katrina charity album, "Our New Orleans," on Nonesuch Records. In 2007 the song was covered by Ray Stevens on his tribute album to New Orleans and Louisiana culture titled "New Orleans Moon". New Orleans-based singer/pianist Marcia Ball also covered the song at several Katrina benefit concerts. The song also appeared in an episode (S03E7) of HBO's show Treme, sung again by Aaron Neville.
It was played by the band Harvey Danger at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina at the Showbox in Seattle, WA on 9/21/2005. The live recording appears on their compilation Dead Sea Scrolls.