Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Louisiana 1927

Randy Newman's song Louisiana 1927 has always sent shivers up and down my spine. There's something about that opening line: What has happened down here is the wind have changed...
Apparently a direct transcript of something said by one of the survivors of the great 1927 Mississippi flood - reckoned as "the greatest natural disaster in the history of the USA". Until now.
The 1927 flood did not bring the same level of catastrophe as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but the parallels are very interesting. Refugee camps, mainly black. A lack of investment in flood prevention. There are the stories of governmental ineptitude and alleged corruption. And racism: It is possible to trace the development of the New Deal, the desertion by blacks of the Republican Party, the rise of Huey 'Kingfisher Long and the downfall of a president to the 1927 flood.
All of this has remained little discussed in the media thus far, though there are signs that things are changing. This book is now in the American best seller charts, and Greg Palast has a powerful and brief summary of the potential effects on the Democrats. Although Todd Leopold of CNN has written movingly of the song and his own background. From the personal to the political, though: remember, history always repeats, as Steve Turner wrote. Has to. No-one listens. Get Newman's album Good Old Boys, by the way. It's a masterpiece.

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