The word ‘literally’ is literally misused most of the time. Generally when you hear it spoken it’s for emphasis and not to be taken, well, literally. Still, on a night in 2001 in the joyous city of New Orleans, I literally…literally…thought I was going to die. There are a lot of great bars in New Orleans, but one of my favorites is The Dungeon. Turn off of infamous Bourbon Street to sedate Toulouse Street, then proceed into a narrow unmarked alley and finally over a small moat, and you’ll find one of the French Quarter’s non-touristy hidden treasures – and by treasure I mean a dark, disgusting, creepy dive bar.
At this site I arrived along with my friends Zing, Walt and Hefferjohnson, a group of guys returning to our revered college town to commemorate our 40th birthday year. Upon entering and surveying the main bar area, we ascended up a ladder-like, near totally vertical staircase to find an utterly anarchic second floor setting. Fatboy Slim’s ‘The Rockafeller Skank’ (the actual title, despite one’s expectation that it’s called Funk Soul Brother) was blasting at lethal, ear-splitting level as a riotous throng fitfully bounced around. The creaky wooden floor was shaking – literally – visibly shuddering, tangibly quaking in the precariously kinetic scene. Despite the blissful unawareness of the convulsing 20-somethings dancing, we were now old enough (and sadly, still sober enough) to know better. I really thought we were all imminently going down. Fortunately, the Crescent City’s voodoo gods must’ve been smiling upon us (or something like that); we survived to escape The Dungeon. But I’ll never forget the feeling of dire dread associated with this record.
The song, by the way, is phenomenal. I’m definitely not one for D.J.’s, but I’m happy to include Fatboy Slim as a favorite (as well as the best shrewdly contradictory music name outside of Biggie Smalls). Among several samples it includes ones from The Bobby Fuller Four gem ‘I Fought The Law’, and ‘Peter Gunn’ featuring the Titan of Twang himself, Duane Eddy – classic stuff. And it always seems to have about four earworm things going on at once – except when it muddily grinds to a stop about two-thirds of the way through, only to be quickly rescued by an alarm, an explosion, some trippy effects, and a propulsive, gradually sped-up beat that eventually brings the tune back to its irresistible hook – likely just about the point of our alleged near-death experience.