Out In The Woods September 19, 2008Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
Tags: Denham Springs, Leon Russell, Louisiana, Manchac, New Orleans, Out In the Woods, swamp
I spent the last few days in Denham Springs, Louisiana on a work assignment from hell. I’m not sure which is the best part of this drive: the early morning, empty-stomached crossing of the vast, stinking marsh around Manchac where the late storms have stirred up decades worth of decay, releasing a vast miasma of swamp gas, or the special drive back in the dark through that same stink while the orange glare of the satanic gas flares of the refineries play on the low clouds. Arrival in Denham is not the high point of the adventure.
I haven’t had any music in the car since I cleaned it out to leave it behind for Gustav, so I grabbed some CDs for the long drive from New Orleans. For some reason, I lingered over David Allen Coe. I figured short of putting a stars-and-bars decal covering my back window, it is certainly something that would get appreciative nods in that red neck of the woods were I caught with the windows down and sunroof back. Instead I grabbed another Son of the South, Leon Russell, and he’s been keeping me sane as I contemplate the apocalyptic light show on my high speed cruise through the reek of a thousand abandoned port-o-lets.
The final lyrics to this song are Zulu. Leon tells the story on the triple Leon Live album of asking an African friend for some lyrics that mean “I’m lost in the woods.” He was told that Zulus do not get lost in the wood, but was offered instead the lyrics we hear which mean approximately a man has gone mad and is running through the woods. If I spend much more time in Denham, I may just get off at Manchac, and see if I can trade the car for a pirogue and vanish forever into the foetid bayous. If this blog blinks out after this post and you find yourself on I-55 crossing Manchac, slow down and keep an ear peeled and a sharp eye. You might catch a flicker in the dark that is probably just marsh lights but could be a campfire. Slow down and listen faintly for the beating of a mad tom-tom. You might even hear these very words.
Unlike most static picture audio posts on YouTube I love this one for the odd portrait of Leon. If I win the lottery, I think I’m going to commission George Rodrigue to paint a portrait of Leon Russell posed out beneath Rodrigue’s magnificant trees. There will be no visible blue dogs, but perhaps a pair of that cartoon beasts own vacant zombie eyes peering out of Rodrigue’s dark woods.