I Believe in Lafayette

My second attempt at college took me to Lafayette, Louisiana, which is about 2 hours away from New Orleans, and in the middle of Cajun Country. When you think of “cher” and alligators and swamps and such, this is the area you’re actually thinking of. In fact, some of the local TV ads there had two versions: one in English with French subtitles, and one the other way around.

At the time when I was there, 1987-1988, Lafayette was going through a bit of a depression. Like a lot of places in south Louisiana, it relied heavily on money from oil companies drilling in the Gulf. That money had dried up and the city was reeling. There were billboards around saying, “Tomorrow the sun is gonna shine on Lafayette!” and bumper stickers with “I believe in Lafayette” (which were parodied as “I be leavin’ Lafayette”). Few things are more depressing than forced optimism, so this didn’t help much.

That’s all beside the point. What’s important is that while I was there my musical horizons expanded dramatically. There were several reasons for this. First, I got a job there working as a DJ for the college radio station’s (KRVS) late-night alternative music show, “Out on the Fringe”. They had what was to me an extensive library of bands I’d never heard of, and I spent a lot of time trying many of them out. Second, I was doing my homework, reading British music magazines like Melody Maker and NME and getting things imported for me. Third, I met my friend Ben, who’d had a head start on me in listening to new stuff. (It also should be pointed out that, for the first time, I was out of my insular little community in New Orleans, which also helped expose me to some new things.)

A lot of this musical explosion is reflected on the sixth Cool New Music Tape, Paradise Misplaced, but it was too big to be contained. As a result, I finally got around to making a compilation I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time now.



  1. Nerve (12″ Version) – Shriekback
  2. Fire in the Rain – Agent Orange
  3. Praying Mantis – Don Dixon
  4. Happy All the Time – The Flatmates
  5. Town To Town – Microdisney
  6. Thrift Shoppin’ – Pianosaurus
  7. Burning Out – World at a Glance
  8. Our Summer – All About Eve
  9. Little Mascara – The Replacements
  10. In Your Eyes – The Reivers
  11. The World Spins, I’m Part of it – China Crisis
  12. You – The Cold
  13. Power – Fields Of The Nephilim
  14. We Care a Lot – Faith No More
  15. Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance to Anything) – Dead Milkmen
  16. Rain – The Cult
  17. Try – Zette


  1. Surfin’ USA – The Jesus and Mary Chain
  2. Pack Your Bags – Dash Rip Rock
  3. Chemical Way – Uncle Green
  4. Make a Little Love – Alex Chilton
  5. What’s My Scene – Hoodoo Gurus
  6. Norwegian Wood – Electric Love Muffin
  7. Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don’t Love Me Aha Aha Aha – Trio
  8. Beaver Patrol – Pop Will Eat Itself
  9. Big Brother Muscle – Screaming Blue Messiahs
  10. Cry Baby Cry – Throwing Muses
  11. Drill – Wire
  12. Amplifier – The dB’s
  13. A Selection – Fishbone
  14. We’re the Replacements – They Might Be Giants
  15. Earn Enough For Us – XTC
  16. Love Dog – Norman Nardini
  17. Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead – Depeche Mode
  18. Waiting For The Flood – Love And Rockets

Thirty five songs from this formative year. There isn’t much to say about many of them, as they were just things I found in the radio station or that were on British compilation albums I got. Many of them were on a tape I threw single songs on to listen to in the car (which is why we start off with that Shriekback song; it was the first song on that tape.) But there are a few I’d like to talk about.

  • Fire in the Rain – Agent Orange
  • Praying Mantis – Don Dixon
  • Drill – Wire

These were on a compilation album Ben had for Enigma records called The Enigma Variations 2. I don’t remember any of the other songs on it, but these three got played a LOT.

  • Thrift Shoppin’ – Pianosaurus

I’ve noticed that some folks hear this band and can tell something’s a little off about it, but can’t figure out what. They’re playing only on toy instruments.

  • Little Mascara – The Replacements
  • Make a Little Love – Alex Chilton
  • We’re the Replacements – They Might Be Giants

Ben got me into The Replacements, and The Replacements got me into Alex Chilton. As a result, when I got the “Don’t Let’s Start” single by TMBG, this song was more popular with me than the title track.

  • You – The Cold

This was a New Orleans band that was huge there in the early 80s. At the time I wasn’t much into music at all, so I completely missed out on them. However, one day I found an album of theirs at the radio station, 16 Songs Off a Dead Band’s Chest. Knowing of them, I took it home and listened to it, and when I heard this song (and “Mesmerized”) I had wave after wave of fauxstalgia wash over me. I never saw this band live, and couldn’t have heard these songs more than once or twice before (if at all) but they hit me as though I had deep, personal memories of them. I couldn’t explain it.

  • Power – Fields Of The Nephilim

A joke at the time was that I had become a “big ol’ goth” and I have no idea what started it. It wasn’t remotely true. Nevertheless, buying this album (which didn’t get a lot of play, but I liked this track) didn’t help matters.

  • Rain – The Cult

Within the listening range of KRVS was the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola (unless I’m wrong and it was a different prison. Looking at the map it seems doubtful that the signal reached all the way out to there). The prisoners listened to The Fringe show and would get a guard to call in a request, which was always the same request: this song.

  • Try – Zette

Ben had this single by an artist I can’t tell you much about, and we both really dig this song. It’s actually the B-side; the A-side was a cover of Chic’s “Le Freak”.

  • Pack Your Bags – Dash Rip Rock

Another local Louisiana band, I first saw them play in Lafayette and then caught them several more times in Baton Rouge.

  • Chemical Way – Uncle Green

Ben helped me out with the show, and we had a policy that anything which came into the station on clear vinyl (yes, this was before CDs were prevalent) got played. Uncle Green sent us a copy of their album which was clear green, and that’s how I discovered this band.

  • Norwegian Wood – Electric Love Muffin

A fantastic cover of a classic song.

  • Beaver Patrol – Pop Will Eat Itself

Making a compilation about what I was listening to at this time means facing the reality that I was listening to this.

  • Amplifier – The dB’s

Ben and I (and Merlin) went and saw The dBs play at Tipitina’s and we met two nice young ladies there. Merlin was kind of being an ass and nothing happened. The next morning Ben and I were leaving my parents’ house and commenting how we wished we’d chatted the girls up more and suddenly I looked out the window and said, “And there they are.” They were staying only a few streets away and were standing out in the driveway. We stopped and chatted with them more and possibly even got phone numbers. Nothing still happened.

  • Love Dog – Norman Nardini

This was a delightful track we played all the time because it was so bad it was amazing. We knew that nobody liked it as much as we did, but every time we played it we claimed it was by request. This is actually not the version we played; I have never been able to find an mp3 of that one, which featured barking dogs in it.

  • Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead – Depeche Mode

An oddball Depeche Mode song that was on a compilation album I bought called, I think, Revenge of the Killer Bs, featuring obscure B-sides. I bought it just for this song, which was not at all what I was expecting based on the title (I was thinking Black Celebration, it’s actually Speak and Spell).

  • Waiting For The Flood – Love And Rockets

While I was in Lafayette I made repeated attempts at a “quiet” mix tape, with varying degrees of success. This song made it on to many incarnations of that mix.

So there you go. Lafayette, despite the friends I had there, ended up being a minor detour in my personal journey, but musically it had a huge influence on me. Many thanks to Dave at KRVS and Ben for helping that happen.

Incidentally, the house on the front cover is where I lived in my second semester in Lafayette. The back cover is the cypress swamp outside the student union at the college there.

You can listen to this mix here:

(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)

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