The Cowsills In Books

This Will End In Tears
Adam Brent Houghtaling
August 7, 2012 HarperCollins


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In the weeks following the touchdown of Katrina, Mos Def released "Dollar Day (Katrina Klap)" (performed over New Orleans hip-hop artist Juvenile's instrumental track "Nolia Clap"), TV on the Radio released the song "Dry Drunk Emperor," partly inspired by the aftermath of the storm, and Texas hip-hop group K-Otix released "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People." These are songs of anger and frustration, while most of the other songs about Katrina flow in a more comfortable manner, such as the Dixie Chicks' "I Hope," Steve Forbert's "Song for Katrink," and Prince's gospel-inged "S.S.T." But very few pop songs expressed the grief and loss of the tragedy in the way the brass bands did, reclaiming their history to breathe new life into funeral dirges such as "Garland of Roses," which had not seen so much attention since the 1950's. Those that did dig a bit deeper include the shrouded groove of Elvis Costello's "River in Reverse" and Susan Cowsill's touching "Crescent City Sneaux." Cowsill lost her home and possessions to the storm, and her brother, Barry Cowsill - both from the 1960s sunshine-pop group the Cowsills - died in the aftermath. "Crescent City Sneaux" provides a moment of turning the clock back, imagining, if only briefly, that "the wind and the panic and the rain" turned into "a soft and quiet snow."

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