I stole away to New Orleans this past week – just a two day visit – to get my fix of the city. I keep going back, and miss it when I don’t. There’s something ineffable about the place that draws people to it…and I know every time I sing “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans” on a gig that I’m certainly not alone in the sentiment. New Orleans seems like a place that’s meant to be missed – especially in song.
Why love this city so much? I pondered this as I took in the streets, sights and of course sounds.
There’s dilapidation everywhere – Katrina is a part of it, but it’s bigger than that. Decay is a revelation in the truest sense: more is revealed as a thing disintegrates. It’s true of us as well, isn’t it? Youth’s bloom leaves us and the etchings of our ancestral inheritance, our laughter and pains write themselves on our faces, making us unmistakable as we age.
And just as there is beauty in this dying, this weathering, there is defiant adornment. A broken gate garlanded with Mardi Gras beads, or the way music pours out of most any corner, cafe and window. There are cities that gleam, cities that shine with wonders and marvels, or that preciously preserve what was. For me, New Orleans lives – it shows the cracks and revels in them. Perhaps then, at least here, it’s not about fixing what’s broken – it’s about making what’s broken beautiful.