Friday, February 5, 2010

Who Dat?!: Songs For The New Orleans Saints

Still from K. Gates Black and Gold video

If fight songs decided football championships, the New Orleans Saints would be 27-point favorites, while the Indianapolis Colts (who have most recently inspired the Baltimore Colts fight song) would be scrappy underdogs. When the Saints captured the NFC Championship two weeks ago, music roared from every neighborhood and spontaneous brass-band parades shut down streets: New Orleans rhythms exploded across the city in a way that just seemed natural for celebrations of football glory.

Conversely, when Prince penned a tune lauding his hometown Minneapolis Vikings, the result was "Purple and Gold": plodding, strangely sexy and ironic, with uncomfortable references to religious music. Yes, it was a Prince song — with the lead vocal double-recorded in falsetto, no less — but it didn't work as a football tune.

The Vikings lost. No, Prince had nothing to do with it, but his "Purple and Gold" illustrated an important point. Football and the successful songs that celebrate football are not about anything but the moment — a blustery, idiotic, immediate and childlike moment. This is why New Orleans, with its Bourbon Street, jazz and Southern-fried hip-hop, might be the perfect football town. (Okay, take away 42 years of mostly unbearable, losing football, and then New Orleans is the perfect football town.)

Americans lose themselves in football much like they do on certain weekend trips to New Orleans. And it's this escapist, feel-good beat — the music of the city — that's provided the soundtrack to the improbable 2009-10 Saints. Internet search engines find at least 80 individual Saints-themed songs, and many of them are streaming at the New Orleans Times-Picayune's site. Listen here to some of the best, and tell us about more Saints songs — and Colts songs, of course — in the comments section below.

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