This weekend, I realized that I have always thought that “Callin’ Baton Rouge”
and “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Day Light”
were the same song. On my walk this morning, I was trying to think about how young I must have been to make this mistake and never realize I’d made that mistake. Pretty damn young, I think. Because, in my head, those are the same song.
But listening to them now, it’d seem like I might assume that they were related songs, like two parts of the same story. So, whenever the conflation happened, it had to happen before I was telling myself stories, I think.
Anyway, all this is preface to say that it’s worth listening again to “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” if you haven’t in a while, because it’s both a really good song and then, somehow, a really weird piece of poetry hiding in a pretty straight-forward narrative.
I mean, you think you’re listening to a song about one thing–a girl trying to run off with a stranger–and the nature of the road and of young girls and traveling men.
And then it ends with “Oh there ain’t no way to stop the water.”
(It occurs to me that the single above might not end that way, but check out Emmylou’s version.)
There’s been nothing explicit about water before this point. And yet, that lyric comes and I feel like maybe I’ve misunderstood the whole song. I listen again and I feel like there’s some mystery at the heart of the song that I can’t get to.
It’s just brilliant.