One Track Mind: Bobby Rush and Dr. John, “Another Murder in New Orleans” (2014)

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Bobby Rush and Dr. John, Louisiana natives with a stake in this, lament how a city of song can so often be riven by violence — in a song that marks an emotional first-ever collaboration on Rush’s just-released new album Decisions.

“Another Murder in New Orleans” doesn’t lament this situation so much as peel back its layers of absurdity, all inside a gritty, unstoppable groove. Not far from the regal homes and flashing neon dives that make up the city’s jovial advertising campaigns, there are areas so poor that the hope for escape appears to have drained away for good. Instead of drawing its denizens closer together, however, these neighborhoods are instead often the ones most prone to street-by-street violence, as desperate people kill their friends, family and schoolmates.

Rush, and then the always-irrascable Dr. John, pull no punches, defining this as a fight for the soul of a proud culture: “The city is old,” Rush barks, “but the trouble is new.” And, because of the victims’ lack of wealth, they die largely forgotten — creating a slow-moving Katrina garnering even less attention from the media, government or charitable organizations.

Wil “Another Murder in New Orleans” serve as a catalyst for change? A rallying cry for those perpetuating this horror to mend their ways? A moment of introspection on how to help the poorest, most segregated members of this community? Hard to say. But in the meantime, Bobby Rush and Dr. John have shined a new light — one that’s staggeringly direct, but also thunderously groovy — on their remarkable plight, their awful mistakes and the embarrassing inattention surrounding it all.

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