Song Blasts Media On Gulf Oil Spill

On the Gulf Coast, those in the tourism business say worse than the oil spill, is the media coverage that's given potential visitors the impression that the coast is coated in oil. One man has put his feelings about the spill to music.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

People in the tourism business along the Gulf Coast are frustrated. The oil spill is bad, they say, but the news coverage is also scaring away visitors by giving the impression that the entire Gulf Coast is coated in oil. NPR's Tamara Keith introduces us to a man who has put those feelings to music.

TAMARA KEITH: When tourists board the Sail Fish for the 70-minute boat tour called the Biloxi Shrimping Trip, they're greeted by this guy:

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. STEVE CASEN(ph) (Deckhand): (Singing) Oh, we were down in Mississippi...

My name is Steve Casen. I'm a deckhand. It means I don't do much of anything. I'm actually sort of semi-retired you might say.

KEITH: Casen is a former businessman who's had legal and financial troubles in the past, but now he's tan and exudes a no-cares-in-the-world kind of attitude.

Mr. CASEN: When they first come on the boat, they go, oh boy, what's this going to be like? And I'll sing one, two, maybe three songs and it changes their whole - they get a kick, especially, like, with your bus groups. They really like it 'cause I flirt with the older ladies.

KEITH: He works for tips but you get the impression he's mostly just glad to have an audience. Casen has written more than 500 songs - most of them are about women - but his latest takes on the oil spill that's hit the livelihoods of so many he knows, including the married couple who own the tour boat.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CASEN: (Singing) Something's happening in the Gulf of Mexico. There's a big oil spill. Hell, where will it go? The media's chasing it like a big show...

KEITH: Before the oil spill they ran three tours a day; now, it's down to just one, and sometimes there aren't that many people onboard. This, even though the oil has largely skipped Mississippi.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CASEN: (Singing) Well, it ain't nothing but a big con job. Everybody's hoping for a big oil blob...

KEITH: In his song, Casen bemoans what he sees as sensational news coverage. He says he's heard from friends in others parts of the country who have no idea what's really going on.

Mr. CASEN: They're asking me, they're saying, well, how bad is the oil where y'all are at? And when I text them back, whatever, and say, well, we don't have any oil, their first statement to me is, well gosh, watching TV, you'd think that y'all had mounds of oil washing up on shore.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CASEN: (Singing) The media's chasing like a big show...

KEITH: So, now when tourists board the Sail Fish, they get to hear Casen's take on the oil spill.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. CASEN: (Singing) ...the only one who knows.

KEITH: Tamara Keith, NPR News.

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