Music Wednesday: Voodoo For All Hallows’ Eve (Listen For Your Own Protection)
Assistant Editor Ryan Bradley’s weekly exploration of great global music, in collaboration with Nat Geo Music.
All Hallows’ Eve is a Celtic holiday, but across many cultures this time of year (the end of the harvest) has been seen as a time when the lines between the spirit world and the living word are blurred. Spooky, and a good idea to do all sorts of things to protect yourself…like pretending to BE a spirit, in costume, and confusing the bad ju-ju in the air. One of the primary concerns of voodoo is guarding against witchcraft, angry ghosts, and, yes, zombies. And at the core of voodoo ceremony (in Haiti it’s vodou, in West Africa it’s vodun or vodoun) is music. So, for your own protection, please listen to the following:
Spirits of Life, Haitian Vodou
Vodou came to Haiti from West Africa with kidnapped Africans sold as slaves. In the Carribbean, and under enforced Christianity, vodun took a new form, and became santería in Cuba and voodoo in Louisiana. (There’s also obeah, which I will discuss in a later post, with various obeah-associated jams.) In in the cultural stew that is New Orleans, voodoo took on its most overtly magical, fantastical forms. And Dr. John brilliantly tapped into this with his 1968 album Gris-Gris, and "Walk On Gilded Splinters" is its climax. "Roll out my coffin, drink poison in my chalice/ Pride begins to fade, soon you all will feel my malice." Oo-wee, don’t get on Dr. John’s bad side.
And finally, because it combines both the devil and transvestites—the two things I think of when I think of Halloween in New York—Antony & the Johnsons’ latest, greatest: "Shake That Devil." (Antony is a cross-dressing dude who’s got a voice like no other).
- Nat Geo Expeditions