New Orleans – the ideal place to get shot

Last year, Ray Davies of the Kinks was shot while in New Orleans. He wrote this for the Times of London.

During my initial week-long stay in hospital and lengthy recuperation, I observed first-hand the bankruptcy of the New Orleans health system. Several doctors who treated me actually apologised for the low standard of healthcare in Louisiana. Even so, they gave me the best of what they did have, for which I am grateful.

I have just looked through some notes in the diary I made after I was operated on and one seems chillingly relevant. “How can the USA be expected to look after the whole world when it cannot even look after its own?” So it doesn’t surprise me to see the world reacting with shock to the “Third World” conditions in New Orleans “in this, the richest and most powerful country in the world.” I could have told them that.

But the reality is that without its music New Orleans would have been a forgotten city long ago. The music of the American South inspired me and helped to shape me as a musician. They say that jazz started on Perdido Street in New Orleans and even Louis Armstrong honed his trade in the honky-tonks on Bourbon Street.

I owe as much to music of the Southern states as I do to the British music that inspired me. If New Orleans is allowed to die, a crucial part of the world’s musical heritage will disappear.

When I left last year I forgot to put the padlock on my bike. Whoever took it, I pray that they get to ride it around the French Quarter again soon.

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