Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stuck in My Head: Down, "On March the Saints"

While most folks probably went for something like the Rebirth Brass Band's version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" after the New Orleans Saints advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time on Sunday, you know I had to reach for something a little heavier. So after Garrett Hartley's kick sailed through the uprights, I cranked up this tune from Down's 2007 album "III: Over the Under."

No, the song is not about the football team, which becomes readily apparent with a listen to the lyrics. Written around the time of the team's 2006 run to the NFC Championship, an effort that energized the city and played a big role in raising spirits in the area following Hurricane Katrina, it uses the Saints as a clever metaphor for the people of New Orleans. That, in itself, is interesting since singer Phil Anselmo isn't exactly known for the use of metaphor in his lyrics ... or any other literary tool for that matter.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't high art. It certainly has its lyrical challenges, but the sentiment of the song comes through in a very personal way. To me, "On March the Saints" perfectly captures the atmosphere and struggle in New Orleans in the years since Katrina. The lyrics and music capture the uncertainty and chaos in the wake of the storm. The song expresses the hopelessness and devastation of the storms. At the same time though, there's a definite joy there, a feeling of triumph in overcoming the challenges.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the song features a great, sludgy slab of a guitar riff, and an undeniable heavy groove.

I'll understand if most fans turn to "When the Saints Go Marching In," or maybe U2's "The Saints are Coming" performance from the reopening of the Superdome in 2006 to celebrate. I'll probably listen to both a few times in the coming weeks. But for me, the primary soundtrack leading up to the Super Bowl is going to include a heavy dose of "On March the Saints." Here's hoping a little of the power and the attitude of the song rubs off on our Saints, and I can crank it again in honor of a Super Bowl win in a couple of weeks.

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