Because Someone Has to Go There…

…The inevitable musical storm open thread.

The original for what has to be our theme song for the next couple of days seems to be breaking the front page, but here’s my favorite cover.

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…I’ve also long been partial to Willie’s version:

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And while, Bay Area born and bred, and old Dead fan that I am, I still can’t entirely warm to  this rendition, that old fella sure can play guitar:

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And speaking of someone who can play a little lead…enjoy the tasty little slow(ish) solo at about 2:30 of this one:

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Well, thanks a lot ladies and gentlemen — don’t forget to tip your servers, and come on back,  ya’ hear — I’ll be here all week.  Let’s go out with just one more.  If you want to check out one approach to production, this from Ole Blue Eyes will set your back fillings aching, though Frankie’s voice is as it ever was.

But for pure old country spare singing, the Man in Black can’t be beat:

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Oh — and that hurricane?  Take care, everyone.  We’re looking for a fair amount of wind where I am, but nothing truly outlandish.  I’ve got my eye on some big trees around my house, though there’s nothing much I can do about them (we took out some real home threats this summer, for which I’m grateful).  We’ve got some water stored up, and food for the next couple of days, and lamps and lamp oil — but things don’t look to be too apocalyptic where we are, so mostly we’re gearing up for a wet, wild day and keeping an eye out for our older neighbors.

And as for tonight — eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we sump-pump.  Our plans are for a pomegranate juice and green peppercorn marinaded skirt steak (under the broiler; the Weber is already tucked into the garage), tomatoes from the in-laws’ garden, and more of the spouse’s chocolate short bread cookies from yesterday’s oven.




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77 replies
  1. 1
    Bowser's Clown Copter says:

    Somewhere between the John Hurt and Willie Nelson videos is something that broke formatting and tables for the entire front page.

  2. 2
    licensed to kill time says:

    uh-oh somebody done busted the site o.O

  3. 3
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    Irene sucked everything away from Georgia so we get another week of upper 90’s and no rain.

  4. 4
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Bowser’s Clown Copter: @licensed to kill time:

    Fixt, I think. No idea what in the Leadbelly version blew up the page.

    Shout if things are still wobbly.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    So they evac’d half of the Eastern seaboard for a cat 1 ‘cane? Really? All this media kvetching for some moderate winds and Jesus spittle?

    Between that and the “quake”, I am convinced the East coast consists entirely of nancy boys and bedwetters. Code Brown!

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Yeah, ouch WP did something strange there.

  7. 7
    urizon says:

    You forgot the Weavers:

  8. 8
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: FYWP is always an appropriate response.

    And you stay safe y’hear?

  9. 9
    licensed to kill time says:

    it’s all good now

  10. 10
    waratah says:

    Thank you for the memories Tom, My mother use to sing this song.

  11. 11
    scav says:

    Fink, Leadbelly was my favorite. I’m suddenly turning into my father. The only Hank Williams is Sr. and where the Jimmy Rogers? It all ended in the 30s! This is very disturbing: I’m ordering people off my grandfather lawn . . .

  12. 12
    Tom Levenson says:


    I’m ordering people off my grandfather’s lawn . . .

    This is going to be my modus operandi from now on.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Julie says:

    I’m in eastern NC, we have lost power, only about an hour ago, and the wind is gusting about 40-60mph. The storm started about 4:00pm yesterday, and we still have about 4-6 hours to go. A giant tree branch missed my car by a few feet. Things are going well so far, but I wish the storm would just blow through already. This really does blow.

  15. 15
    Brian S says:

    I was a teenager when Willie Nelson played Baton Rouge and my dad drove my sister and me there to visit his brother (our uncle) who was/is Willie’s bassist. We wound up eating dinner at the Governor’s mansion, and at the show that night, the right Honorable (using the term loosely) Edwin Edwards came on stage and sang “Goodnight Irene” with Wiilie. Great day for a high school freshman.

  16. 16
    russell says:

    what, no dexys midnight runners?

  17. 17
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    My grandmother was Irene Everetson of the Stevanger Everetson’s.

  18. 18
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    I was living in Boston during my one and only hurricane, so in honor of that:

    Dirty Water

    Y’all stay safe and I’ll see the beautiful city in two weeks. yippee!

  19. 19
    cintibud says:

    Non Irene Hurricane songs:

    Hurricane Party – James McMurtry

    Wasn’t that a mighty Storm – I don’t know who wrote it – may be “traditional” but I like the duhks version.

    Galveston had a seawall
    To keep the water down,
    But the high tide from the ocean
    Washed water over the town.
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm!
    Oh, wasn’t that a mighty storm with water!
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm
    That blew all the people away!
    Their trumpets gave them warning,
    “You’d better leave this place.”
    They never thought of leaving
    Till death looked them in the face.
    Death like a cruel master,
    As the wind began to blow,
    Rode out on a train of horses.
    Death calls, you gotta go.

    Sure hope Irene is more like McMurty’s version!

  20. 20
    JGabriel says:

    This Tornado Loves You — Neko Case

    Like A Hurricane — Neil Young


  21. 21
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    more of the spouse’s chocolate short bread cookies from yesterday’s oven.

    Recipe please?

  22. 22
    gnomedad says:

    Because someone had to go there

    That’s okay. Just leave the Hurricane C***** earworm alone for a while, please.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @russell:DMR’s song was “Come on, Eileen.”

  24. 24
    Walker says:

    Just got off the phone with my family in Wilmington. Still gusting and a wire down in the backyard (which they think is the cable because it is the only thing out). But otherwise a pretty lame hurricane. Nothing to get worked up over.

  25. 25
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    And in irony, also by the Standells, the name of the hurricane that year in Boston:


  26. 26
  27. 27
    aimai says:

    On the cape with all my nearest and dearest–that means ten of us to feed and a whole lot of trouble after the electricity goes out and the toilets don’t flush and there’s no water (pump needed to pump water up from the well). We’re filling the bathtub and lots of buckets of water for flushing (!) and getting ready to toast marshmellows over the fire if its raining too hard for me to grill and the electric sstove is dead. Be safe everybody. And please, let the sump pump in my real house work because I really don’t want to get back to that kind of disaster.


  28. 28
    Tom Levenson says:

    @aimai: Youch. And those vacation houses get small when the out-of-doors disappears.

    You have both sympathy and empathy.

  29. 29
    Kane says:

    Call me a liberal, but I like the idea that government is there to provide aid and assistance when disaster strikes. I like the idea that scientists from NOAA and the National Weather Service are tracking the storm and that FEMA has coordinated efforts with the states and is ready to respond.

    And it’s reassuring to have a president in the White House who actually believes in science and who believes that government has a vital role in addressing our challenges, rather than a president who denies science and vilifies government.

  30. 30
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @aimai: Um, there is actually more than ONE cape.

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:

    One of life’s little quirks: the best song ever written about floods comes from the pen of a composer who has spent virtually his entire life in SoCal.

    “What has happened here is the wind has changed,
    Clouds rollin’ in from the north and it’s startin’ to rain.
    Rained real hard, and it rained for a real long time,
    Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.”

    Aaron Neville’s rendition is definitive.

  32. 32
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @burnspbesq: Randy

  33. 33
    Tom Levenson says:

    @TaMara (BHF): Gloria was my first hurricane; and this song is the best. (I do love Jim Morrison’s hymn to what I suppose I shouldn’t spell out on a family blog that goes under this title as well…but the original is sweet, sweet, sweet.) (That link not really SFW.)

  34. 34
    JPL says:

    @Julie: Take care and may your batteries last and last.

  35. 35
    Amir Khalid says:

    If we’re talking non-Irene hurricane songs, here’s one I think is indispensable, especially for a political blog: the Boss’ Hurricane Katrina version of How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live.

  36. 36
    WaterGirl says:

    I was absolutely certain that the song was going to be: Riding the Storm Out. I don’t actually know if that’s the name of a song or just the repeated refrain, but can we get some love for that song, too?

    Off to swim. Stay safe, everyone.

  37. 37
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @WaterGirl: Riders of the Storm. It was also an insane movie with Dennis Hooper that somehow had it’s name changed to “The American Way”.

    “A group of Vietnam vets disturbs television programs from a B-29 airplane. They want to sabotage Mrs Westinghouse’s political campaign who is running for the Senate in support of US military involvement in South America. Mrs Westinghouse orders some nuclear missiles to be launched against the saboteurs, but they manage to avoid the impact and even succeed in exposing a big secret of hers.

  38. 38
    Julie says:

    I don’t have reply on the iPhone so I can’t do the nifty reply thing, but thanks JPL. I may have to sit in the car while the phone charges. The dogs are not happy right now, and the wind seems to be getting stronger. It’s going to take a few days to clean up. This still blows. I always like Neil Young.

  39. 39
    Mino says:

    @burnspbesq: Aaron Neville. Nuff said. He could make a phone book sound beautiful.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): “Riding the Storm Out” is an REO Speedwagon song that I will oblige everyone by not linking.

  41. 41
    trollhattan says:

    After hearing Johnny’s version I wonder how anybody else had the nerve to record it.

    Much luck to all you wet-weatherites. I hope the storm continues to weaken. Here: hot and windless. Waaaah.

  42. 42
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: From my hometown. We mockingly called them the Aireal Speedway.

  43. 43
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @trollhattan: No shit, it’s ugly in Georgia too!

  44. 44
    trollhattan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Right, now imagine it being performed by a Japanese cover band.

    @russell:DMR’s song was “Come on, Eileen.”

  45. 45
    JPL says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Because of our dry air it decreased the intensity of the storm or so the newsies said. Yeah, for us.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @JPL: And the damn Braves are not on!

    Holy smokes, Christie thanking the prez and FEMA!

  48. 48
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Wag: I’d walk a mile for a Caramel!

  49. 49
    Cat Lady says:

    Husband is offering shelter from the storm by throwing me a birthday party by having Jenee Halstead come and perform for us and a bunch of friends at our house, with a Mediterranean food theme. We’re having kefta, lamb and chicken skewers, and a bunch of other delicious things coming via pot luck. I haven’t listened to any of the breathless ZOMG IRENE eleventy! commentary, which is perfect since I’m anticipating nothing happening, but am prepared for if it does or doesn’t. Leftovers will be awesome!

  50. 50
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Galveston Flood – Tom Rush

  51. 51
    NamelessGenXer says:

    For my song, I go full hair and The Scorpions with “Rock You Like a Hurricane”

    We’re halfway inland in Central Jersey and I’ll tell ya: the supermarket was in full blizzard mode this morning. We’re hosting some LBI refugees and expecting to be without power for like four days, so here’s what we got:

    – Hurricane lamps (get it?)
    – Crank flashlights & radio
    – Three iPods fully charged and loaded with some excellent tunage (including 8/29/80 and the knowledge that 60% of us were there)
    – Total of nine phones and that won’t work
    – Cold chicken, chips, salsa, nuts, oranges, cherries, apples and a few Entenmann’s
    – Twelve gallons water
    – Six cases of Sam Adams (misc)
    – Four gallons of coffee (iced)
    – Three gallons homemade Cherry-Lemonade & Finlandia
    – Two ounces of my friend’s cousin’s primo Jersey homegrown (best seeds in Amsterdam :-)
    – Cards, poker chips, dice, checkers, chess, backgammon, Beatles Trivial Pursuit, and The Grateful Dead Game (all participants qualified)

    I’ve been watching the wall-to-wall media coverage (brought to you by those who brought you climate change!) and all I can think of is Pink Floyd and Tear down the wall! — only it’s Gin up the fear!

    Our worst fear is being without showers for a few days, so guests of guests have already been informed that, come Monday, they will have to sleep on the porch. Me and my S/O (happily not married for nine years) have also agreed that if we have to stink, we will stink together.


    Good on you for that Garcia Kahn.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    sfinny says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Yeah, Christie actually is being reasonable and doing a good job.

    I’m finally ready, filled the tub, did the dishes, moved the car to higher land, patio cleared. Now I can just sit and watch the storm come in.

  54. 54
    BD of MN says:

    I’ve been watching the radar with a fancy bit of software called GRLevel3, here’s a screen cap from 10 minutes ago or so. the left frame is radar estimated precipitation since 9:40 last night. the pink area is 6-8″, the purple is 8-10″, and the white is over 10″… there’s some areas over 17″ of rain…

  55. 55
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Right into the T Zone. You must be as old as I am.

    ETA: If you go to the link, scroll to 1942.

  56. 56
    JRon says:

    So, apparently hurricane Irene really is Obama’s fault.

  57. 57
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Chad N Freude:

    Baravelli: …you can’t come in unless you give the password.
    Professor Wagstaff: Well, what is the password?
    Baravelli: Aw, no. You gotta tell me. Hey, I tell what I do. I give you three guesses. It’s the name of a fish.
    Professor Wagstaff: Is it “Mary?”
    Baravelli: [laughing] ‘At’s-a no fish!
    Professor Wagstaff: She isn’t? Well, she drinks like one! …Let me see… Is it “Sturgeon”?
    Baravelli: Aw, you-a craze. A “sturgeon”, he’s a doctor cuts you open when-a you sick. Now I give you one more chance.
    Wagstaff: I got it! “Haddock”.
    Baravelli: ‘At’s a-funny, I got a “haddock” too.
    Wagstaff: What do you take for a “haddock”?
    Baravelli: Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes I take a calomel.
    Wagstaff: Y’know, I’d walk a mile for a calomel.
    Baravelli: You mean chocolate calomel? I like-a that too, but you no guess it. [Slams door. Wagstaff knocks again. Baravelli opens peephole again.] Hey, what’s-a matter, you no understand English? You can’t come in here unless you say, “Swordfish.” Now I’ll give you one more guess.
    Professor Wagstaff: …swordfish, swordfish… I think I got it. Is it “swordfish”?
    Baravelli: Hah. That’s-a it. I guess it.

  58. 58
    Alex S. says:


    Eh, I blame Bill Ayers.

  59. 59
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Well, you’ve certainly made your Marx.

  60. 60
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I gotta go. We have to resume this later.

  61. 61
    drkrick says:

    @WaterGirl: You can get some from me. REO Speedwagon without Kevin Cronin was a pretty good ’70’s rock band, as opposed to the later AOR machine they became.

  62. 62
    Gozer says:

    This will be my 5th hurricane and the 1st outside of Louisiana…

    I think we’ll just get a lot of wind and rain, but nothing too extreme. I’ve got lots of beer stockpiled and plenty of ice and cokes. Gotta do this thing right.

  63. 63
    khead says:

    After hearing Johnny’s version I wonder how anybody else had the nerve to record it.

    Preach it.

    Hope everyone is safe out there.

  64. 64
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    There is going to be an issue with this news coverage. Christie is urging people not to pay attention to the reports that the storm has weakened. There are many reports from North Carolina that it’s not that bad. It’s like the exit polls, if people don’t evacuate, like they don’t vote because of the news coverage, heads will roll.

  65. 65
    catpal says:

    @Amir Khalid: thanks. love that one. dedicated to “president bystander”

    thanks bruce!

  66. 66
    Jager says:

    Any of you who have been around Boston for a few years may remember WBZ TV’s Shelby Scott who was blown around, knocked down, soaked and splashed by every storm for 25 years. When she retired BZ ran a serously long clip of her performances in a quarter of century of blizzards, rainstorms, flood, hurricanes and the occasional tornado. Tiny lttle Shelby was the best, my favorite was her standing by the lighthouse in Scituate and getting knocked flat by a wave and never missing a beat!

  67. 67

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It was the first song I thought of. Tweak one lyric and ya got gold!

  68. 68
    russell says:

    DMR’s song was “Come on, Eileen.”

    Once again, I am an idiot.

  69. 69
    quannlace says:

    Checked out the garden to see what I should bring inside. Mainly kinds of greens which will weather fine. My grand harvest? One zucchini and one ripe cherry tomato which I promptly ate.
    Luckily I’ve got plenty of ripe tom’s from our local garden center. One of those will be going into a nice shrimp pasta salad tonight, with lots of fresh basil.
    With the constant news/updates/mayor’s news conferences I feel like this storm’s been around a week already. I wish it would just get here!
    Called my sister down in Maryland. She said they haven’t even rain yet.
    Right now, just trying to finish and upload a design job to my client tonight, in case the power goes out. They’re in Australia, and they’ve heard about Irene.
    So those are my plans for tonight. That and a lemony glass of Sauvingon Blanc.

  70. 70
    SBJules says:

    When I was 4 years old, I learned the Weaver’s version of ledbelly’s Irene Goodnight and sang it for visitors before I went to bed. They were always kind.

  71. 71
    xian says:

    70 comments and no one has mentioned James Booker’s version? best take I can find on youtube is the second tune in this medley:

    saw the garcia/kahn version live a few times, starting in ’85 back east. and i’ve got a nice recording of booker and the jgb rehearsing together, including a nice joint take of Irene Goodnight.

  72. 72
    moderateindy says:

    Goodnight Irene also lends itself to making up limerickesque lyrics. For instance:
    Marcus Bachmann dated a girl from Nantucket
    She had big hands and was really quite tall
    When she dropped her knickers and told him to suck it
    Turns out she wasn’t no girlie at all.
    Irene goodnight……………

  73. 73
    Sawgrass Stan says:

    @xian: Heck, yeah! Sort of wondered why I’d looked up my Goodnight Irene playlist last night–
    For some reason about a year ago, I searched iTunes for all the versions of “Goodnight Irene” and ended up buying 39 of them. Must have been drunk. I already had Mississippi John and Tom Waits, but some discoveries were: Chic Street Man, The Originals (Motown!), The Orioles (doo-wop), Elizabeth Mitchell (if you like John Hurt’s guitar, you’ll like this), Kelly Joe Phelps(please please listen to this guy!), and Little Richard, among so many others. And you have to have Leadbelly’s canonical original in there, or suffer a severely constricted life.

  74. 74
    daize says:

    Tom — thanks for this. My mom used to sing “Irene” to me at bedtime when I was very young. I didn’t realize the song’s history ’til I read your post. Thank you again. *sniff*

  75. 75
    Jay C says:

    8:00pm in the Berkshires and still bupkis: a piddly rain since about 7:00 – the hurricane is still young, though: they’re calling for heavy shit starting in the wee hours and going on all day Sunday thru Monday wee. Hope they’re wrong…

    Anyway, the respite let me make a decent dinner: jumbo shrimp grilled w/ red peppers & portabellas over whole-wheat fettucine. The nice treat will be tomorrow’s lunch, though: the local seafood gougers merchant had to bail on their lobsters (no room on the fish-evacuation truck for a tank!) so I picked up a couple of hefties cheap. And cheap lobster in this day&age isn’t something you pass up.

  76. 76
    magurakurin says:

    So, does the media get to say that the Mid-Atlantic was “hit by a hurricane” even though it was a tropical storm? or do words have meaning?

    just wondering.

  77. 77
    Ed Drone says:


    “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm?” was recorded by John A. Lomax from the singing of Sin-Killer Griffin and congregation at Darrington State Farm, Sandy Point, Texas, 1934. Library of Congress record LP10.

    And, as an aside, I have played that Guild guitar John Hurt has in one of the photos in that montage. He said he chose it, among the guitars he was offered (after being rediscovered) because, “I always wanted a guitar that was more than one color.” (It’s a “sunburst” top, somewhat rare on flat-top guitars, but pretty common for archtops — which the Guild isn’t).

    Nice guitar. It’s at the Denver Folklore Center, or was a few years ago, when I dropped in for a far-too-short visit.

    I don’t think he totally learned the Leadbelly version of the lyrics, though — those sound like the Weavers’ lyrics to me.


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