Drew Landry, an out-of-work Cajun crawfisherman, caused a stir last year when he whipped out a guitar and, literally, started singing the blues during his testimony before the National Oil Spill Commission – the body established by the White House to investigate the causes and impacts of the BP spill. My guess is it was a first for all involved. But one thing’s for sure: There’s nothing like music to evoke the emotions and sentiment of a worthy cause.
The song, “BP Blues,” which Mr. Landry wrote, conveys the hardships of what it’s like to do daily battle with the oil that drenched the Gulf Coast in catastrophe and unmitigated anguish. The song has attracted attention well beyond the Oil Spill Commission and has propelled Landry and the tragic story of the Gulf Coast into the hearts and minds of millions.
In September, Landry will tour with Dr. John to promote the Bobby Charles-inspired “Solution to Pollution” album. The musical production showcases artists from around the world who believe that clean air and water are basic human rights – a simple but compelling message. It’s a superb album, and I urge everybody to buy it and get out and see Landry on tour if possible.
Drew is a friend, and a true hero of the Gulf Coast. I admire his work and am infinitely grateful for his tireless, selfless efforts to help restore our waters, beaches and way of life. He deserves a medal – or perhaps a Grammy – along with the recording contract.
Set to the tune of “I Believe I Can Fly,” Landry starts off with these verses in his mellifluous southern drawl:
Grew up on the southern shore
Louisiana now there ain’t no more
Kicking mud off up a crawfish hole
Barefooted with a fishing pole
Make a living with my own two hands
Hell it’s part of being who I am
Went to working in the oil fields
That’s the only way to pay our bills
And if I’m lucky I can have a son
Take him hunting like his daddy done
Get him working on a shrimping boat
Up and down the Gulf of Mexico
Warner Bros. Records signed Landry in 2010 for the heart-tugging “BP Blues,” and all proceeds are going toward funding Gulf Coast cleanup efforts. The contract even includes a $5,000 donation to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), one of my nonprofit clients. In addition, for each download of the song, a donation will be made to the Save Our Gulf coalition. So please download it yourself and suggest to friends and family they do the same. It’s a great way to help restore the Gulf and to protect our culture.
For a guy who started out as a crawfisherman, Mr. Landry has found his voice protesting what he sees as BP’s complete lack of concern for the people of the Gulf. In the video of Landry’s testimony to the Commission, which is posted on Youtube, he conveys the concerns and needs of Louisianans simply, but effectively:
We definitely need other solutions. Going green, whatever it takes. All of our people are out of work right now, and we don’t have any fisheries. We got nothin’. We don’t want to be a welfare state. There’s no point in that. There are hard working people.
We’re not ready for hurricane season. There’s a Gulf full of oil. And we’re sitting here worrying about this right now when we need to be giving people hazmat training so they can defend their homeland, so they’re not going to be kicked out forever. This could be the next expulsion of the Cajun people, people who love this place.
In the frequent posts he made to the website, DirtyCajuns.com, dedicated to getting locals involved in and informed about the BP spill and restoration efforts, Landry described the chaos and devastation that took place in Louisiana. On July 19, 2010, he posted:
Thank you for your invitation to sing the BP Blues, at the rally against the moratorium on July 21 here in Lafayette. I really want to help the people of Louisiana. My main main concern is for the safety of fishermen, oil workers, and citizens along the Gulf Coast. We are in a state of emergency…after almost 3 months of oil spilling into the Gulf, clean-up workers are still not allowed to use respirators. Citizens are moving out of the lower parishes with breathing problems. I’ve been on the coast since BP showed up, and I know from my own experience that sometimes I have trouble breathing while on the water – oil is burning, dispersants are being sprayed, and there’s no way to know way to know to what effect. We don’t know if the air we are breathing is safe.
It’s a moving portrayal of how the spill affected – and continues to affect – the hard-working men and women who are closest to the water and land of the Gulf. We can only hope the Powers That Be hear their song.
Thank you Drew, from all of us who hold the Gulf dear!
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