This week’s show is a Gumbo YaYa send up of Louisiana musicians whose careers intersected with the military in honor of Veterans Day. Please be advised that while I honor our veterans, I do not honor war.
The show starts with Louis Prima’s rendition of “White Cliffs of Dover” – a WW II era song that uses the air battle over Britain following the fall of France as its backdrop. A scary time for the world.
My earliest experience with a war veteran is my father, a professor and administrator at Tulane whose life was punctuated and shortened by anxiety episodes that were eventually traced to his two years as a blimp pilot during World War II.
Veterans pay a price for our collective foreign policy actions and we owe them for the burden they carry. Today, you’ll hear the music of those Louisiana musicians who served in the military while also spinning music that seeks a more peaceful approach to our conflicts.
The first vet you’ll hear is Ellis Marsalis Jr. who was a member of the Marine Corps. And while the next number is by Fats Domino, his song features the rocking saxophone of Herb Hardesty a WW II member of the Tuskegee Airmen — the all-black 99th Flying Squadron.
You also hear Lloyd Price, whose musical career was red hot when he was drafted and sent to Korea. By the time Price returned to the music scene, Little Richard and many others had grabbed the limelight.
Lee Dorsey and Dale Hawkins both served on Navy destroyers. Dorsey was injured in an air attack during World War II. Hawkins lied about his age and served during the Korean War. Edgar Blanchard served in Europe in World War II. Rockin’ Tabby Thomas was in the Army between World War II and the Korean War. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was in the Army Corps of Engineers.
Al “Carnival Time” Johnson lost legal control of his hit song during his stint with the Army at Fort Bliss. Red Alvin Tyler and Eddie Bo also served in the Army. Chuck Carbo was in the Coast Guard. Paul Gayten directed an Army band during his military service. Al Hirt was in the service during World War II and played the bugle (no surprise there).
Because the draft ended, its harder to find younger musicians with military service. However, Derrick Moss, drummer and co-founder of Soul Rebels Brass Band, references his Air Force Reserve service on the band’s website. You’ll hear music from all these veterans, and more.
Smoky Greenwell’s “Power of Peace,” Louis Ludwig’s “World Without War,” Black Bayou Construkt’s “Jones for War,” Dr. John’s “Lay My Burden Down,” Gina Forsyth “4th of July,” the Subdudes’ “Lonely Soldier,” Meschiya Lake’s “I’ll Wait for You” and other songs wrap around the songs of these veterans with the message that the best way we can honor war veterans is to avoid creating more of them.
By the way, I did a similar show three years ago. And my list of veteran musicians has grown since that show . . .as it will when I next to do this show. For instance, I’ve just learned Dennis Paul Williams, artist and guitarist with Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas served as a Marine in Japan. Also, Allen Toussaint was drafted by the Army in 1963. Thank you for listening.