“The Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Redbone – About A REAL Voodoo Priestess And It’s A Funky Song for Halloween

Here’s an unofficial video for created by a pop music chart show from Bremen, West Germany. The song is a funky jam and I think better than their other well-known single “Come And Get Your Love”.

Redbone released a recording of the song in 1971 as a single and on an the LP Message from a Drum. Pat and Lolly Vegas, brothers and band-mates wrote the song together. Their recording combines elements of Southern Swamp-Rock, Native Folk-Rock and Funk.

Redbone was actually the first All Native American band to reach number one on a singles chart in any country. It was with this song. “Witch Queen” reached number one in Belgium. It hit number two on the UK Singles chart. It got to 15 in Canada but only 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

courtesy of discogs

Because of the subject matter, the song has become a favorite for Halloween celebrations in the US, UK and Canada.

The song is about a 19th century Voodoo practitioner named Marie Laveau. You probably didn’t read about her in your high-school history book. She was a free woman of color, Creole, born and died in New Orleans, 1801-1881.

1920 portrait formerly identified as Marie Laveau (1794–1881) by Frank Schneider, based on an 1835 painting (now lost?) by George Catlin.

Her life story is long and interesting. There is far to much to cover here in this blog. The short version is that she was a famous Herbalist, Voodoo Priestess, Beautician and Midwife. Despite being a person of color, she herself owned slaves. For a while she was the elected leader of The New Orleans Voodoo Organization. This is why they gave her the nickname “Witch Queen”.

Her unique life experience has inspired many writers and musicians to referenced her in their work. You can still visit her grave today. Notice the marker refers to her VooDoo organization as a cult. Her former home and grave-site are both thought to be haunted by her dead soul.

courtesy of atlasobscura

Okeh Laughing Record – The Creepy 100 Year Old Audio-Meme That’s STILL Going Viral

Imported into the United States in 1922, the “OKeh Laughing Record”–as it has come to be known–is one of the most unusual, (in its way) influential, and surprisingly enduring novelty records ever recorded.

There is nothing overly complicated about the recording itself. A solo cornet begins a rather slow, sad performance only to be quickly interrupted by a woman’s high-pitched, unrepentant, seemingly unforced laughter. She is quickly joined by a second laugher–a deep-voiced male–who, too, seems unable to contain himself. The mystery woman and man’s continuing, building chorus of giggles and guffaws eventually come to drown out, even usurp, the musical selection.

Because it was originally released with no credits or names attached, various “histories” of the “Laughing Record” have come into existence over the years. Generally accepted however is that the original recording was made in Berlin, Germany, in 1920 for the Beka label. The recording itself was an update/remake of an earlier purposefully laugh-centric recording, “The Misfortunes of Youth,” made by Henry Klausen in 1903.

newspaper ad & poster

The recording’s inexplicable, surprising success inspired a host of imitators, copy cats and pseudo sequels. The OKeh label itself issued the self-explanatory “Second Laughing Record” and “The OKeh Laughing Dance Record” as well as the equal-time-inclined “OKeh Crying Record” all before the end of the decade.

Perhaps because they were easy and quick to produce, a host of other “laughing” records also soon flooded the market, effectively creating their own bizarre subgenre. How they were ultimately used—as party background noise or for cheering up its listeners—is, of course, open to speculation.

advertising sticker

Even after its initial notoriety died out, the “OKeh Laughing Record” remained strangely, firmly embedded within American culture. Radio humorist Jean Shepherd (whose original short stories developed into the beloved holiday classic “A Christmas Story”) used it regularly in his broadcasts as did Chicago children’s television icon Ray Rayner. Later, the recording would become a staple of Dr. Demento’s weekly radio show.

Cary O’Dell
Courtesy of The National Registry, Abridged

“Would You Like To Buy An O” by Frank Oz & Jim Henson as The Salesman & Ernie

Unless you are Generation X or older you are not likely to understand the humor in this skit from classic Sesame Street featuring Frank Oz and Jim Henson as Muppet characters: The Salesman and Ernie, respectively.

In the 20th century, there really were people in long coats walking around trying to sell items hidden under their coats. They could be found in any American downtown, market, densely populated neighborhoods, bus stops, college campus and anywhere people might be walking around. They usually sold wristwatches and jewellery.

It was “buyer beware” if you were going to make a purchase from one of these often shady characters. People became annoyed with them and came to see them as a public nuisance. The practice was eventually made illegal In most jurisdictions. “Coat-commerce” was in decline by the 90s. The advent of online shopping dealt the final death-blow to the custom.

This track appeared on at least 80 releases in different countries and different formats. It first appeared on The Muppet’s Alphabet Album in 1971.

As a kid, I had an LP called Ernie’s Hits that I ordered from a school book club catalog. I found a photo of the 8-track version that was published the same year that I was born. This 8 track has the Spanish version of “Rubber Ducky” which did not appear on the LP. I still have the LP but it’s no longer playable.

courtesy of discogs

“Corporation” by Jack White

I have a lot to say about Jack White. I’ll try not to spend all day on this!

First of all, I knew the guy back in the day. Jack was known as John back then but I will continue to use the name Jack for the sake of simplicity. He and I went to both the same grade school and high school. I was one grade ahead of him. I didn’t know him in grade school. We met in High school.

The grade school was actually part of a Catholic Church complex called Holy Redeemer. Jack appeared in a movie that was filmed on location. He played an alter boy in Rosary Murders in part because he was an alter boy in real life.

About one hundred members of the church community were invited to play church goers as extras. I got to be part of that crowd. Filming was a lot of fun. I was way in the back so you won’t see me in the movie.

Just like Jack, I had considered going to seminary school in Wisconsin but ultimately decided to go to public high school. We both ended up at Cass Technical in Detroit. I first met him in his second or third year. I wasn’t cool enough to get invited to watch his band practice but some mutual friends got to see them.

I remember asking Jack if his band could play at an environmentalist demonstration. He said maybe, but the band didn’t show up. I also remember asking him if he liked the new classic rock radio station, WCSX. He told me that he liked it but they played “Oye Como Va” by Santana way too often. I agreed but yeah, good song.

After high school, I went off to Michigan State and Jack went to work as a furniture repairman. While still in college, I tried to do what Jack ended up doing. I recorded music and tried to start a corporation, that is, a record label and promotions business. It went nowhere fast. I had naive dreams. Jack has the real talent to do it, obviously. I admire him.

We play “Corporation” on the air all the time because it is a bit odd. It reminds me of the excitement a child feels when the ice cream truck shows up on your street. The more serious meaning of the lyrics though strikes a chord with me personally. I own this track on vinyl. I purchased the LP Boarding House Reach at Third Man Records in Detroit.

I wish I could say I took the photo below but I found it in this very cool article on TapeOp about his record pressing plant.

What is your favorite Jack White track? Have you met him? Tell us your Jack White story in the comments.

-Wacky Alex

Ten Songs About Robots Just For You Meat-bags!

This list is a result of both serious research and personal taste. Your personal top ten may be different. Let us know in the comments! In evaluating the songs we did consider the chart positions but this was not the sole criteria by any means.

Does the song have staying power? Has it become legendary? Was it groundbreaking in it’s time? These are the types of questions considered in creating the list. Also, we did not want to include the same artist twice, so one does pop up again in the honorable mentions.

“The Robot Song” by Yo Gabba Gabba (Spanish version)

“Monkey Vs. Robot” by James Kochalka Superstar

“Robot Boy” by Robyn

“Robots on Parade” by They Might Be Giants

“Transformers Opening Theme” (1980s original)

“Robot Rock” by Daft Punk

“Robots” by Flight of The Conchords

“Mechanical Man” by Devo

“The Robots” by Kraftwerk

“The Girl And The Robot” by Röyksopp ft. Robyn
“Ya Robot” – Yury Chemnavsky
“Theme From Robot Hamster” – Parry Gripp

“Mr Roboto” by Styx

Thanks for checking out our list of robot songs. We hope you enjoyed reviewing it as much as we did creating it.

-Wacky Alex & Robot Don

Illustration on the top of this page by BenMonster (benmonster.tv)