Mechanical Music of Recovery in the Big Easy

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Listener Mark Woods contributes a recording to SoundClips. It's a pile-driver working along a canal in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. In a city famous for its musical sounds, he presents this as the music of recovery.


Today our SoundClips series also comes from the Gulf Coast. It's from someone who visited there and took away a sound with meaning.

Mr. MARK WOODS: My name is Mark Woods. I'm a columnist for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Florida. And after Hurricane Katrina, I kind of thought about how New Orleans was built on sound and what a huge role sound played in the city's history. But there's one sound that was literally New Orleans being rebuilt. It was the sound of the levee in the Lower Ninth Ward being rebuilt.

(Soundbite of pile driver)

Mr. WOODS: For New Orleans and Katrina, this spot was kind of their ground zero. It was the spot where there are some famous images from there, where a barge burst through the levee, and that barge sat there for months and months and months. Not much had changed since Katrina hit. There was a few journalists there and some volunteers gutting homes and cleaning up, a few sightseers, but for the most part, it was really quiet. And then kind of out of the blue, this towering machine started pounding into the ground.

(Soundbite of pile driver)

Mr. WOODS: And what I love about it was it was almost rhythmic. It sounded like music.

(Soundbite of pile driver)

Mr. WOODS: The thing I remember most is there were the three displaced residents who had come back to look at where their home used to be, and they were walking down the street, and they heard this sound and they linked their arms and they started dancing in the street.

(Soundbite of pile driver)

NORRIS: Mark Woods with a sound clip of New Orleans rebuilding. For more information about our series, please go to and search for the word SoundClips.

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