When I Go to Alabama (a demo)
(formerly You’re in New Orleans)

    Where do songs come from?
The ideas and particularly the lines that jump out and grab at the listener often baffle the writer as to their origins. I’ve written before about “catching” songs as they float by.  This is a metaphor used by many songwriters.

    I find the mysterious part of creativity as fascinating as I do terrifying: What if I can’t do it again? This is why I like looking back at the birth of my songs. It helps me remember how to get ready to catch the next one.   

“You’re in New Orleans” was such a gift during unsettling times.

Here’s a list of things that probably played some part in this song’s birth.
In no particular order in the fall of 2016:
— Hurricane Matthew:
— Reading Moby Dick on my iPhone as I waited patiently in line at the makeshift post office.
— U. S. Highway 80 ends on Tybee. The other end is in San Diego. > Studying a map of U.S. Highway 80 fantasizing a road trip. >
    Noticing where New Orleans is in relationship to 80. >Wondering if I was ever going to go to New Orleans again. (I went for a brief stay when I was probably 25.)
    Plus, let’s face it, you can’t live through a hurricane and not think of New Orleans.
— Thanksgiving week we entertained out-of-town guests in a cottage not our own as we waited for Everything to get Fixed.
        For some reason, the phrase “when I go to Alabama I think about Mississippi cause you’re in New Orleans” popped into my mind.  I wrote that down.

    I ran that phrase by someone who sort of got it but didn’t see any potential.
    However, Melissa immediately recognized it as the beginning of a story.
    So then, it was  just a matter of finding ways to sneak off and compose.
    I wrote this song on my iPhone during that Thanksgiving week, six weeks after Matthew, while entertaining out-of-town-guests. Proving if you are prepared to catch it, a song will find you any where.

For example: Where does this come from?
                 and still stop in Slidell
                 and see your uncle Ahab
                 and get you some Spodiodi wine.

     By looking up the distance from Birmingham to New Orleans, I  got the line: “If I leave Birmingham sometime  in the a.m., I could be there by suppertime…” and still have time for what?
     Map shows Slidell on the way. Great name. Have to use it if for no other reasons than Lucinda Williams uses it a lot.…the whale hunter in Moby Dick is named Ahab. And what would “Uncle” Ahab have you might want, that rhymes with “supper time?” Wine. What kind of wine would Uncle Ahab from Slidell have?  

    My first thought was: muscadine wine.  But that was too “soft.”  I needed some cajun juice: Spodiodi wine.
    Spodiodi: I have never had any that I remember. That qualifier is probably said a lot about the port wine and bourbon drink. But I do remember the old ditty: “drinking wine spodiodi, drinking wine.”

If you didn’t follow all that, don’t worry.  It’s not easy trying to explain the inexplicable.


The above is my and my guitar

You’re in New Orleans

When I go to Alabama
Think about Mississippi
Cause you’re in New Orleans
Maybe I ought to come and see you
cause it don’t look like
you’re ever gonna come see me

You had to go to Louisiana
Cause you said your momma said
she was feeling poorly
But after two long years
it sure seems like to me
your mamma ought to be feeling better

If I leave Birmingham
sometime in the “a m”
I could make it there by supper time
and still stop in Slidell
and see your uncle Ahab
and get you some Spodiodi wine

The cresent city that was built
below sea level
is stronger than a hurricane.
but every one that blows up,
up from the south
they say it’s gonna be the last.

If I could just get myself
down to where you live
I sure wouldn’t worry about that.
Cause my biggest worry,
is that you’ll be in no hurry
To get back to where we was at.

When I go to Alabama
think about Mississippi
Cause you’re in New Orleans
and it really ain’t that far,
if you are driving in your car
and don’t have to take the train.

But given I’m in Carolina
and haven’t lost my mind yet
I think maybe it is too far
But next time in Atlanta
I’ll head to Alabama
cause Louisiana’s right around the corner.


3 comments for “When I Go to Alabama (a demo)
(formerly You’re in New Orleans)

  1. judi
    May 25, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    reading about how lyrics “come to your mind” makes me think good songwriters, such as you, are a bit “flaky” – that’s a good thing though as the rest of us get the benefit of that talent even if we don’t understand how it happens –

  2. Bob Rohrer
    May 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I like it. Catchy & sentimental at the same time.

    • Thomas
      May 21, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      thanks and thanks for listening.

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