Dancing With Ghosts
"Zig-Zaggin' Through Ghostland" (Ed Volker)
The New Orleans Radiators, 1989
Here’s a tune I used to play up in Memphis on my annual New Orleans Halloween radio special along with a bunch of others I’d gather up from the spookier side of the city’s music. You know, songs with hoodoo and voodoo references, graveyards, ghosts and the like – not too serious, most of ‘em. Written by keyboardist and lead singer of the Radiators, Ed Volker, “Zig-Zaggin’ Through Ghostland” isn’t really about fear of the supernatural, the make-believe terrors of scary movies, or people in masks and skeleton outfits. Instead, he wrote this song after seeing a TV show about a soldier trying to stay alive fighting in Vietnam. A real horror story.
Ever since hearing “Zig-Zaggin’” when it first came out on the out-of-print album of the same name, it’s stuck with me. I think it’s brilliant – certainly one of the best of many great songs, most written or co-written by Volker, the group has done in their nearly three decades together. Effective lyrics, funky groove, and a perfect arrangement by the band. Frank Bua’s drumming is outstanding here and the centerpiece of the production. For a rock band, they put out a distinct jazz vibe on this one. I could hear it worked up as an instrumental with a dominant organ and horns.
As we run up to Halloween this year, I’ll favor you with a few more selections from my trick bag, most all of them much more tongue-in-cheek, even devil-may-care. But for now, meditate on this danceable, haunting little number.
Notes: You might recall that I featured the Rads in my mudbug special back in August. Looks like today’s song/album may be available for better quality download through mp3.com, or maybe try itunes. The band still tours extensively and tolerates taping. So, I know there are a lot of live shows to sample out there, too, if you’re interested. They’ve got a number of live CDs for sale, as well. And, speaking of live, HOTG music is best heard that way, if possible. So, I encourage you to catch these road warriors, if they ever play in your zone.