The process of determining today's selection for the 30 Day Song Challenge was an interesting venture, but I do want to complain about the category for a moment first. A song that reminds you of an "event"? What counts as an "event"? I can only imagine that the creators of today's category must have been intending to have a day for which people could list the song that was played at their wedding or prom or first date or something. Otherwise, I have to say, this category seems really weird to me. At first, I tried to think of important events in my life and then remember what songs I associated with those events-- What was I listening to on 9/11? or when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded? or on the day I defended my dissertation?-- but none of those events recalled songs for me. So, I decided I was going to have to discover the event-song link in reverse. I commenced listening to my favorite songs, hoping that one would bring to mind an event.
In the end, I employed a fairly loose interpretation of "event" for my selection today. I mean, it was an "event" for me, but likely won't count as an "event" to anyone else. Also, the song I chose could have easily been the selection for either of the last two days. It's a song that reminds me of an event, but that event is so closely associated to a particular person (Day 5) and a particular place (Day 6) that it's hard to separate the three.
At any rate, let's get to the music. My choice is New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins' version of "St. James Infirmary" recorded on his 1998 album Barbecue Swingers Live. For the record, the video below is only of about half of the song. Here it is:
"St. James Infirmary" is the song that reminds me of my second-favorite city in this country, New Orleans. And the musician that reminds me most of NOLA and this song is Kermit Ruffins. Those associations have been in place for a while, but they were totally solidified last summer when I took a trip to New Orleans to see him play at the Blue Nile on Frenchman Street. What makes the otherwise ordinary experience of going to a concert an "event"? Well, through a fortunate series of circumstances, I ended up getting to SING ON STAGE with Kermit that night. After I returned from NOLA, I wrote about the whole experience here on my blog in a post titled "Kermit and Me." (Just click on this link if you're interested to read the whole story.) Here's my photo evidence:
I really can't exaggerate how amazing-- and thoroughly eventful-- that night was. Getting to perform with one of your musical heroes is something that only happens in dreams. But there I was, in New Orleans, and onstage with one of the best. For the record, "St. James Infirmary" wasn't the song that I sang with Kermit, but he did play it earlier in his show, and it is still the song that immediately transports me back to that night. It's also the song, not incidentally, that whenever it is played gives me an opportunity to regale everyone in close proximity with the story of Kermit and me. So, watch out if you're ever around me and decide to play "St. James Infirmary" on the jukebox. I will immediately go all starry-eyed and nostalgic, and you will doubtlessly be forced to tell me how awesome I am at the end of my story.