Top Ten Songs From the First Season of Treme
Simon established himself in the early part of last decade with his brilliant series The Wire, which will arguably go down as the greatest television series ever produced. To help with its stark portrayal of the different facets of life in the city of Baltimore throughout its five seasons, The Wire utilized a remarkable soundtrack.
10. John Boutté -- "Treme Song"
Featured in the seventh episode of the season, "Smoke My Peace Pipe," this song from New Orleans jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton is an homage to his contemporary turn-of-the-century jazz musicians. In 1902, Morton claimed outright to have invented jazz -- a claim that, while rife with hyperbole, can't entirely be disputed otherwise.
7. Ernie K-Doe -- "A Certain Girl"
Noted eccentric, Charity Hospital baby and self-billed "Emperor of the Universe," Ernie K-Doe rose to fame in 1961 with his #1 Billboard hit "Mother-in-Law." It's his song "A Certain Girl," however, that was featured in the third episode of the series "Right Place, Wrong Time." K-Doe, who passed away in 2001, was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
6. Professor Longhair -- "Mardi Gras In New Orleans"
Featured in perhaps the first season's finest episode, "All On a Mardi Gras Day," Professor Longhair's 1973 ditty about The Big Easy's most celebrated day encapsulates perfectly the Mardi Gras attitude. There's really no way to make this list without one song from Fess, as he was so affectionately known. The staggering influence of Professor Longhair on the multitude of New Orleans musicians is a testament to his unbelievable talents.
5. The Meters -- "People Say"
If there's no way to make this list without at least one song from Fess, then the same applies to The Meters. The influential funk band had multiple songs featured throughout the first season of Treme, yet the first track from their 1974 album Rejuvenation -- "People Say" is perhaps one their most underrated songs. Featured in the season's fifth episode, "Shame Shame, Shame," the song isn't as instantly recognizable as "Hey Pocky A-Way" or "Cissy Strut," yet it's easily just as enjoyable.
4. Irma Thomas -- "It's Raining"
Poignantly positioned at the end of the aforementioned episode "Shame, Shame, Shame," the standout track from the "Soul Queen of New Orleans" Irma Thomas is yet another solid selection for the show's soundtrack. Thomas even played herself in a few episode, swindling some cash from one of the show's main characters, Antoine Batiste, in a poker game.
3. Louis Prima -- "Buona Sera"
Featured in the first episode of the season, "Buona Sera" showcases Louis Prima's Sicilian -- as well as his New Orleans -- heritage. The songs of "The King of the Swing," as he was more affectionately known, have been covered by such artists as David Lee Roth and The Stray Cats, yet it's his lesser known "Buona Sera" that found its way into the lexicon of Treme.
2. Lee Dorsey -- "Who's Gonna Help My Brother Get Further"
Songs like "Ya Ya" and "Working in a Coal Mine" may be among his more well-known offerings, but Dorsey's 1970 song "Who's Gonna Help My Brother Get Further" is undoubtedly one of his best. Featured in the seventh episode of the season, the song is a rare funk classic that was one of his last collaborations with Allen Toussaint. What's even more remarkable is that in 1980, Dorsey opened for The Clash on their U.S. tour.
1. Rebirth Brass Band -- "I Feel Like Funkin' It Up"
The Rebirth Brass Band, formed in 1982 in the Tremé neighborhood, made their name by brining contemporary influences such as soul, funk and hip hop to the more traditional styles associated with brass bands. The second track from the their 1991 album Do Whatcha Wanna, "I Feel Like Funkin' It Up" was used early in the first episode of Treme. It's a smart move because there might just be no song finer than "I Feel Like Funkin' It Up." In fact, I have no reservations in declaring that I believe "I Feel Like Funkin' It Up" to be one of -- if not the -- greatest songs ever recorded in the history of New Orleans.