When it comes to the football field, I’m expecting big things from the Minnesota Vikings in their big showdown Sunday with New Orleans.
Unfortunately, though, when it comes to the field of hit records and pop song standards, Minnesota gets badly trounced by the New Orleans juggernaut. “The Big Easy” stands triumphant with an array of humongous musical treats (one No. 1 hit, three other Top 10 smashes, a Hoagy Carmichael classic and dozens of other songs with New Orleans in their titles).
Minnesota, meanwhile, limps in with one measly, minor hit (more about that song later). Even Minnesota native son Bob Dylan wrote and recorded a song with the Louisiana city’s name in the title: “Bob Dylan’s New Orleans Rag.”
Here’s hoping the lopsided musical score is no omen of Sunday’s outcome, but it truly is no contest for New Orleans in the recording studio. Here’s a quick look at the stat sheet:
• The biggest hit: Johnny Horton”s “Battle of New Orleans,” which stayed at No. 1 for six weeks in 1959.
• Three Top 10 hits, all from 1960:
• Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon’s “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”
• Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans”
• Gary U.S. Bonds’ rockin’ “New Orleans”
• A pop standard: Louis Armstrong’s version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans”
• And a small New Orleans song sampler:
• Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans” (1972)
• Redbone’s “Witch Queen of New Orleans” (1972)
• Better Than Ezra’s “King of New Orleans” (1996)
One lonely, lowly Minnesota hit
Meanwhile, Minnesota sits here with one lonely, lowly hit song with our state’s name in the title: “Minnesota,” by Northern Light. From its opening loon call on, this song evokes quintessential Minnesota touchstones. It peaked at No. 88 in late spring of 1975. Although the group’s producer worked with Brian Wilson for a time, their sound reminds me more of the Cowsills, who had such late-’60s songs as “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” and “Indian Lake.”
Do you remember this song?
Oh … and, by the way: Go, Vikings!