I was rereading Andrei Codrescu’s 1994 collection of essays (Zombification). There were some bits about New Orleans, and these were particularly resonant to me.
“The Jazz Fest, an annual party that the city of parties throws itelf every spring, is drawing out the lovers of sound from everywhere. Like pale moths emerging from eternal darkness, northerners of all stripes are released into the bright sound of New Orleans and bathed in music. I wandered the grounds of the fest the other day feeling a mixed ranged of emotions, many of which, I am sure, were not mine. People were swaying to the blues, dancing to zydeco, weeping to smoky voices, swooning to Gospel, swelling with brass. It was all flowing through me the way words flow through a song. I felt that I could stop the slow at any moment and write down whatever it was that needed writing down. Writing is jazz, too. It is best when it joins the music and it just happens, from deep down. There are passages like that in F. Scott and Tennessee and Faulkner that couldn’t have been written anywhere else. In fact, they weren’t written: they were riffed and let loose.” (226-7)
“This is the time when the music that seems to come from your head actually comes from the street. When the music you hear from the street comes from your head. When the music you hear in your head lodges itself in your dreams. And the music that was in your dreams comes from the street. This is the time when the part of you that is music overcomes the part of you that is silence. This is when music rules the fools. It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, ladies and gentlemen, and the good times roll, and you might as well roll with them because there is only music to hold on to.” (232)