I Wish I Was In New Orleans

(In the Ninth Ward)(2)

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
Arm in arm down Burgundy(3)
A bottle and my friends and me

Hoist up a few tall cool ones
Play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone
Calling me home

And I can hear the band begin
"When the Saints Go Marching In"
And by the whiskers on my chin
New Orleans, I'll be there

I'll drink you under the table
Be a red nose, go for walks
The old haunts, what I wants
Is red beans and rice

And wear the dress I like so well
Meet me at the old saloon
Make sure that there's a Dixie moon
New Orleans, I'll be there

And deal the cards, roll the dice
If it ain't that old Chuck E. Weiss(4)
And Clayborn Avenue(5), me and you
Sam Jones(6) and all

And I wish I was in New Orleans
Cause I can see it in my dreams
Arm in arm down Burgundy
A bottle and my friends and me
New Orleans, I'll be there

Written by: Tom Waits
Published by: Fifth Floor Music (ASCAP), © 1976
Official release: Small Change, Elektra/ Asylum Records, 1976

Known covers:
Angel Of New Orleans. David Roe and The Royal Rounders. March, 2000. The Orchard
Big Easy Classics. Tom Hook. 2005. Self-released
Now Or Never. Dave Holt Band. August 17, 2006. Lucky Lobster (USA)
American Storyteller Vol 2 & 3. Chris Chandler And Davd Roe. September 4, 2007. Self-released
I Wish I Was In New Orleans. Tipitina. November 6, 2007. Big Bear Records
Anywhere I Lay My Head. Scarlett Johansson. May 20, 2008. Atco Records


(1) Live intro from 'Cold Beer'/ Sydney, 1979: "I used to know this girl named Suzy Montelongo. And her brother's name was Joe Montelongo. Joe always wanted to kill me. He sang in a band called the Rodbenders. Suzy Montelongo used to wear these angora sweaters. I'm crazy about angora sweaters. I guess it's kind of a hang-up of mine. She had angora socks, and angora shoes. I believe she was originally *from* Angora. I don't know where she is anymore, but every time I see an angora sweater, I think maybe inside will be Suzy Montelongo. Eh-he-he... Maybe she's in New Orleans. Well, I'll be there... " (Transcribed by Ulf Berggren. Tom Waits eGroups discussionlist, 2000)
- Live intro from 'Paris at Midnight': "This is about a guy who lived at a place called the Taft Hotel, which is in St Louis. He spent most of the afternoon starring at the wallpaper. And it was a water stain there. He thought it was a map of South America. Heck, it was good enough for him. This was his... the way he was traveling was just from going inside the water stains on the wallpaper in the hotels. It's just a concept... And he saved most of his time in a little bag, with a string on it." (Transcribed by Ulf Berggren. Tom Waits eGroups discussionlist, 2000)
- Francis Thumm (1988): "When did you first see yourself as a songwriter?" Tom Waits: "Actually, even after I had made records. I didn't feel completely confident in the craft until maybe Small Change. When I first put a story to music. I fell I was learning and getting the confidence to keep doing it. "Tom Traubert's Blues" "Small Change" and "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" gave me some confidence." (Source: "Tom's Wild Years" Interview Magazine (USA), by Francis Thumm. October, 1988)
- In the late 1970s Waits often used to perform this song as a medley with "I Dream Of Jeannie", "Since I Fell For You", "When The Saints Go Marching In"
- I Dream Of Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair (Written by Stephen Foster, 1854): "I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair. Borne like a vapor on the summer air. I see her tripping where the bright streams play. Happy as the daisies that dance on her way. Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour, Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o'er. I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair. Floating like a vapor on the soft, summer air. I sigh for Jeannie, but her light form strayed. Far from the fond parts round her native glade; Her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown. Flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone."
- Since I Fell For You (Lenny Welch. Words and music by: Buddy Johnson, 1948): "When you just give love, and never get love, you'd better let love depart. I know it's so, and yet I know, I can't get you out of my heart. You made me leave my happy home. You took my love, and now you've gone, since I fell for you. Love brings such misery and pain. I guess I'll never be the same, since I fell for you. Well it's too bad, and it's too sad, but I'm in love with you. You love me, then you snub me. But what can I do, I'm still in love with you. Well, I guess I'll never see the light. I get the blues most every night, since I fell for you. Since I fell for you."
- When The Saints Go Marching In (Wrritten in 1896 by James M Black (music) and Katherine E Purvis (words) (Emma Cotton[?]). Copyright: unknown): "We are trav'ling in the footsteps. Of those who've gone before, And we'll all be reunited, On a new and sunlit shore. Oh, when the saints go marching in. Oh, when the saints go marching in. Lord how I want to be in that number. When the saints go marching in. And when the sun begins to shine. And when the sun begins to shine. Lord, how I want to be in that number. When the sun begins to shine. Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call. Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call. Lord, how I want to be in that number. When the trumpet sounds its call. Some say this world of trouble, Is the only one we need, But I'm waiting for that morning, When the new world is revealed."

(2) In the Ninth Ward
- Ward: A division of a city or town, especially an electoral district, for administrative and representative purposes (Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company).
- Apparently when in New Orleans, one will hear people give directions, or talking about the city in terms of wards. The term comes from the city's voting districts, which are called wards. There are 17 wards in New Orleans and one will hear the natives and the news media refer to this or that ward. Boundaries of Ward 9 are: Almonaster, Lake Pontchartrain, St. Bernard Parish Line, & the Mississippi River. (North) Claiborne Avenue and Burgundy Street are indeed in the 9th Ward.
- Bunny Matthews: "The Ninth Ward has always been the part of New Orleans that was mired in last place. Its residents, the poorest of the poor-black and white, had no political clout, no drainage, no sewerage, and in some places, no sidewalks. The Ninth Ward was the only place in city limits where hunting game was a viable nutritional option. In 1914, the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, also known as the Dock Board, decided to create an artificial waterway connecting the river and Lake Pontchartrain. The Ninth Ward was considered the perfect site because it was "a virtually uninhabited area" or at least, uninhabited by anyone capable of stopping the captains of industry. Between 1918 and 1923, the Industrial Canal was built through the heart of the Ninth Ward, resulting in the divisions known as the Ninth Ward and the Lower Ninth Ward... (Today the Ninth Ward) is a neighborhood where 99-year-old ladies wearing housecoats and hairnets sit on their stoops, making sure that everyone else's business is their business. They own Chihuahuas because, pound for pound, they're the meanest of all canines. The last time these ladies visited Canal Street, it was the site of department stores named D.H. Holmes, Maison Blanche, Gus Mayer, Krauss and Godchaux's. To them, Metairie might as well be the moon. There is no Uptown seersucker suit pretension around here, no ponytailed joggers with glistening tans and personal CD players, nobody eating free range chickens or Light 'n Fit yogurt... The staff of life in the Ninth Ward is the po-boy, limp with gravy, hot sauce and Blue Plate mayonnaise, washed down with a draft beer-no particular brand, as long as it's cheap. Dessert is a Hubig's Pie (388 calories), baked across the border in the Eighth Ward. Half the people are drunk by noon, a quarter suffer from vague but incapacitating diseases causing crusty skin inflammations and dementia, a third would rather endure root canals instead of missing their daily soap operas. Everybody is Catholic or a voodoo variant thereof. As the saying goes, people from the Ninth Ward don't mind dying, either because they've already had so much fun or because they'll try anything once. Fats Domino, residing in the Lower Ninth Ward, is the area's most famous musician. His home on Caffin Avenue is a monument to Fats' status as a pop artist second only to Elvis Presley, as well as a testament to Mr. Domino's devotion to his home turf. He could've easily deserted the Ninth Ward for a gated community or country estate, but chose to live in New Orleans' funkiest zone-a place where murders are as common as mirlitons." (Source: "WISH YOU WERE HERE, DAWL!" By Bunny Matthews. OffBeat magazine: July 2003. Copyright ©2002, OffBeat, Inc.)

(3) Burgundy: Burgundy Street, New Orleans (Ninth Ward, Holy Cross Neighborhood)

(4) Weiss, Chuck E.: Chicago born and old time friend Chuck E. Weiss. Further reading: Chuck E. Weiss

(5) Clayborn Avenue: misspelled and should read "Claiborne Avenue", New Orleans (Lower Ninth Ward). Bart Bull (2005): "Claiborne runs through the Ninth Ward (prounounced Nint') and the Sevent and Sixt and all through Uptown and Downtown....It was the great street of black New Orleans, the High Street, Main Street, which is why when Urban Redevelopment came along in the 1960s, they yanked out its looming, shady oak trees and plunked the freeway right over top of it, killing all the thriving black business. Yet, in a miracle of how Afrocentric culture can respond to such as that, folks still congregate beneath along Claiborne, using the freeway for shade in the absence of the oak trees, and every second line parade makes sure that it travels under the freeway (usually called "the bridge" because the brass band booms all more reverberatingly underneath all that concrete." (Source: email conversations Bart Bull/ Tom Waits Library, October 2005)

(6) Jones, Sam: Jones is mentioned in the linernotes of the album "Nighthawks at the diner": "Special thanks to Sam (I'll pay you if I can and when I get it) Jones." In Waits' 1974 press release for The Heart Of Saturday Night a Sam Jones is listed as one of his favourite writers.
- Tom Waits: "I hitchhiked to Arizona with Sam Jones while I was still a high school student. And on New Year's Eve, when it was about 10 degrees out, we got pulled into a Pentecostal church by a woman named Mrs. Anderson. We heard a full service, with talking in tongues. And there was a little band in there - guitar, drums, and bass along with the choir." (Source: "Tom's Wild Years" Interview Magazine (USA), by Francis Thumm. October, 1988)
- Tom Waits: "I have slept in a graveyard and I have rode the rails. When I was a kid, I used to hitchhike all the time from California to Arizona with a buddy named Sam Jones. We would just see how far we could go in three days, on a weekend, see if we could get back by Monday. I remember one night in a fog, we got lost On this side road and didn't know where we were exactly. And the fog came in and we were really lost then and it was very cold. We dug a big ditch in a dry riverbed and we both laid in there and pulled all this dirt and leaves over us Iike a blanket. We're shivering in this ditch all night, and we woke up in the morning and the fog had cleared and right across from us was a diner; we couldn't see it through the fog. We went in and had a great breakfast, still my high-water mark for a great breakfast. The phantom diner." (Source: "The Man Who Howled Wolf ". Magnet: Jonathan Valania. June/July 1999)
- Tom Waits: "Well actually I had some good things that happened to me hitchhiking, because I did wind up on a New Year's Eve in front of a Pentecostal church and an old woman named Mrs. Anderson came out. We were stuck in a town, with like 7 people in this town and trying to get out you know? And my buddy and I were out there for hours and hours and hours getting colder and colder and it was getting darker and darker. Finally she came over and she says: "Come on in the church here. It's warm and there's music and you can sit in the back row." And then we did and eh... They were singing and you know they had a tambourine an electric guitar and a drummer. They were talking in tongues and then they kept gesturing to me and my friend Sam: "These are our wayfaring strangers here." So we felt kinda important. And they took op a collection, they gave us some money, bought us a hotel room and a meal. We got up the next morning, then we hit the first ride at 7 in the morning and then we were gone. It was really nice, I still remember all that and it gave me a good feeling about traveling." (Source: "Fresh Air interview with Tom Waits", Fresh Air with Terry Gross, produced in Philadelphia by WHYY. Radio show as archived on Fresh Air website. May 21, 2002)