Gambit Weekly

August 31, 1999

1999 Best of New Orleans


Best New Orleans Song of the 20th Century

  1. "New Orleans Ladies"
  2. "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"
  3. "They All Ask'd for You"

OUR PICKS: At first, nobody wanted to record our readers' choice for the best New Orleans song of the century. Leon Medica, the tune's co-writer and producer, recalls that he and Hoyt Garrick had composed the tune for a French musician named Dick Rivers, who was looking for some New Orleans-themed material. Rivers passed on it, and when Medica took the song to his own band, LeRoux, lead singer Jeff Pollard wasn't interested either. But the band played it live, and audience response was overwhelming; when LeRoux recorded the song, it went to No. 1 for about a month in the Southeast region and scored on charts around the country. Currently, Medica is producing a new album for Cajun Rocker Wayne Toups, and a French version of "New Orleans Ladies" is in the mix.

Readers chose "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" for second and the Meters' homage to the Audubon Zoo, "They All Ask'd for You," as third.

We decided on "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" as the century's best. Written by Eddie DeLange and Louis Alter, the unforgettable song debuted in the very forgettable movie "New Orleans," and became a signature piece for Louis Armstrong. Its wistful melody and plaintive lyrics provide the perfect counterpoint to the town's usual musical party. For second place, we chose "Iko-Iko," a Mardi Gras Indian chant that has traveled the world in versions by the Dixie Cups, the Neville Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Cyndi Lauper. Third place was tricky: "Walkin' to New Orleans?" "Big Chief?" "My Darlin' New Orleans?" Anything by Professor Longhair or James Booker? In the end, we want to be in that number, so we have to go with "When the Saints Go Marchin' In." The spiritual has come to symbolize everything about the city from its pro football team to the spiritual faith of its citizens.