Saturday, December 31, 2011

WWOZ plays an offbeat Christmas

A devoted Ozillian, I've been trying to think of something to write about my favorite radio station, WWOZ-FM, 90.7 on your dial. Its claim to fame is "bringing New Orleans music to the universe."

OZ's volunteer DJs have been playing some pretty quirky holiday music, even by New Orleans standards.

We've heard Boogie Woogie Santa Claus by Mabel Scott; What Will Santa Claus Say When He Finds Everybody Swinging? by Louis Prima; The 12 Drinks of Christmas by Frankie Ford; Zat You Santa Claus? by Louis Armstrong; Thanks for the Boogie Ride by Anita O'Day; Little Drummer Boy played by Kermit Ruffins; Dig That Crazy Santa Claus by Oscar McLollie & His Honey Jumpers; Irma Thomas singing Christmas Without the Creole; I'm Gettin' Nuthin' For Christmas on the Yule Be Miserable album by Spike Jones and What Child is This by the great Mahalia Jackson.

I can't remember which standard - maybe A Holly Jolly Christmas - was rewritten with the lyrics, "Christmas music is making me crazy," which, of course, it does after hearing it for two months everywhere you go from Walgreens to Target. So, these offbeat versions broke the monotony.

The WWOZ playlist is pretty cool. I've never tried to find a song before. I do especially love OZ's Latin shows, Tiene Sabor (You Got Taste) and Tudo Bem (Everything's Cool). You can search the playlist by date, artist, album title or DJ.

One of the DJs told a cute story the other day. A guy wandered into the studio, which is located in the French Market, asking for the title of the song he had heard on air a few days before. He was wearing a jogging outfit and introduced himself as Laurence. He couldn't recall which day, but the song played in the afternoon afternoon - a blues song, something about being depressed and losing his girlfriend. The dedicated volunteer struggled to identify the song, although all blues songs have similar themes.

When he left, she realized he was Laurence Fishburne.

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