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Way Down Yonder in New Orleans: Song of the Day for August 25

Photographer- Jeff Anding
Photographer- Jeff Anding

New Orleans bounced around like a lotto ball in the early part of its history. The French founded the Crescent City on August 25, 1718. It was named for the regent of France, Philippe II, Duke of Orleans.

In 1763, the Spanish took over after the Seven Year’s War.

The French regained it in 1800. Then, in 1803, New Orleans became part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase.

New Orleans was once the largest city in the South and fifth largest in the United States.

The city might be the most unique in the United States.

Its history intermingles French and Spanish languages, architecture, food and music. The city is known for its beignets, po’ boys and jambalaya.

New Orleans was one of the early hotbeds for jazz and rhythm and blues.

New Orleans has been a muse to songwriters, starting as far back as the 1800s.

Our Song of the Day, “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans,” was innovative in that it avoided the cliches of the time. John Turner Layton Jr. wrote the music and Henry Creamer wrote the lyrics.

They said it was a Southern song without a mammy, a mule or a moon in the lyrics. It was part of the Broadway revue “Spice 1922.”

The Peerless Quartet sings our version, but the group was just one of many to record it.

Freddy Cannon had the most successful version. His recording reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It’s also the first rock song to have a full brass section.

Song of the Day is a co-production by Sheldon Zoldan and WGCU Public Media. Audio mixed by Simon Dunham.

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