18 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

Say, don’t you know me? I’m your native son

Author: Helen

Apparently not.

How do we respond to the many writers, bloggers, commentators and others who have blamed the New Orleans population, specifically the poor and black population (with special reference to single mothers). The mental picture they conjure and reinforce is of people who only know how to take, don’t know how to give.

They might hold a mirror up to themselves; particularly if they’re paid by the big media organisations who have links with entertainment organisations, the “record labels” as we used to call them. Anyone who has profited from the vast, globalised behemoth of a US entertainment industry– and that includes film, TV, broadway and other strands. And the rest of us, who consume that culture daily, who rely on the entertainment industry for out leisure time, aren’t off the hook either.

That behemoth is responsible for a good deal of the GDP, exports and lifestyle of the US. And none of it would exist in its present form if it wasn’t for the musical history of the poor, black population of the Mississippi delta.

Many of whom, it’s been pointed out, may be household names, but are still struggling while people who have profited from their pioneering music live large in luxury.

Maybe a bit of gratitude is in order. Perhaps it’s the people of New Orleans who have given, and we’ve taken and taken and forgotten where the magical honeypot of popular culture came from.

Good morning America, how are you?

This song has been on my mind since New Orleans flooded… and its citizens came in for such cruel comments from its fellow citizens. Say, don’t you know me? I’m your native son. It was written by Steve Goodman and recorded by Arlo Guthrie, becoming Guthrie’s best selling single.

This version in G is my preferred way to play it (weak left hand, so I avoid F chords), although a couple of the chords and lyrics are wrong so you need to refer to a recorded version.

I haven’t managed to play this song to the end, though. When I try to sing the last verse, something funny always happens to my throat.

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