Always Sounds Like Home: Professor Longhair In the months after Hurricane Katrina, Edie Hall of New Orleans lost her father, her job and her partner. But she's still got New Orleans — and a favorite song to go with it. Her pick: Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras."
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Always Sounds Like Home: Professor Longhair

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Always Sounds Like Home: Professor Longhair

Always Sounds Like Home: Professor Longhair

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And before we let you go, we know that you have a Best Song in the World Today, courtesy of one of our listeners.

LAURA CONAWAY: Well, I just…

STEWART: And it's not your theme song?

CONAWAY: No, it's not my theme song. All right, let's kill the theme song and get the Best Song in the World Today, thank you. So the best song in the world today is this - a segment where we talk to people, listeners, sometimes ourselves and say, what's stuck in your head and why? What's the personal meaning of this favorite song? So the one I'm going to tell you about is actually somebody else's Best Song in the World Today. It comes from a woman named Edie Hall. She is a true daughter of New Orleans. She's lived there, really, all her life.

She and her mom roll with an all women's krewe called the Krewe of Iris. Edie's kind of a pistol. She's really, she's just total salt of the earth. It just -you couldn't get more New Orleans than she is. Here's just a little taste.

Ms. EDIE HALL: We throw a lot of beads, a lot of toys, a lot of stuffed animals. I had a friend tell me that if you couldn't catch a bead at Iris, you were blind and deaf.

STEWART: She tells you straight up.

CONAWAY: Edie Hall just tells you straight up. So today, of course, is Fat Tuesday. It's the third Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in the whole Gulf Coast in 2005. And Edie owns a nice home down in the Garden District there. It's just a really classic home with high ceilings and a swing on the front porch. It's not a big house, just a nice place. I met her in college. And right after Katrina we were all trying to reconnect, and we were so glad to hear that she had made it through the storm and everything was fine.

But then these other things started happening. In October 2005, October 1, the same day she got power back, Edie got a call that her father in Mobile had shot himself. And New Orleans was still under curfew, but she got in her car and she drove to Mobile. And in doing so, to reach her father - who was, of course, dead - she had to follow the arc of the storm destruction from New Orleans, across the Gulf Coast to Mobile.

Ms. HALL: I was the only car on the road, and as I got up on the interstate -it's pitch black dark, there are no streetlights. There's no stoplights, there's nothing except my headlights. It was very surreal. The whole experience was surreal. You sort of, you know, you think back to it and you're like, was I in a movie? Just the interstate was black. There were no lights.

I mean, you know when you get to an exit - you know, when you got to Gulf Port exit, it's - one of the Gulf Port exits, there's a huge exit. They had all the fast food restaurants, the trucker, you know, gas station, all that sort of stuff, just pitch black dark. You know, and you're sort of sitting there thinking, you know, okay, my father shot himself and there's destruction all around me.

CONAWAY: And then something else happened.

Ms. HALL: I lost my job in January of 2006. They eliminated a position.

STEWART: Oh, a tough time that she's having.

Ms. HALL: So, in effect, yeah, they were downsizing.

CONAWAY: Yeah, and then something else.

Ms. HALL: And then in the summer of 2006, my partner of nine years left me.

CONAWAY: But she's still got Mardi Gras. She's not giving it up. She's got a new job down at City Hall, and she's got a song that just sums up for her the love of Mardi Gras. I'll let her tell you.

Ms. HALL: The song is "Go To Mardi Gras" by Professor Longhair. And it is my Best Song in the World Today. You hear the first few bars and you know exactly what it is, and it's about coming to Mardi Gras. It's about getting your ticket and coming to New Orleans. And if you come to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras, you're going to see the Zulu king down on St. Claude and Dumaine. And if you stay there long enough, you'll see the Zulu queen.

(Soundbite of song, "Go To Mardi Gras")

STEWART: So Edie, we hope you have a wonderful Mardi Gras. On behalf of BRYANT PARK PROJECT, let's play it out. This is the best song in the world today on this Fat Tuesday. Thanks for listening.

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