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They’re Trying to Wash Us Away
Psalm 31

Last night we went to a concert by the great honky-tonk/blues singer Marcia Ball, who grew up in Louisiana. Her closing song was Randy Newman’s unbearably moving “Louisiana.” The song describes how the Mississippi River rose all day and all night, and it pictures the sheer volume of water with the recurring phrase “six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.” It describes the at-best indifferent response of the federal government, and it keeps repeating the lament “They’re trying to wash us away.” The first time I heard the song was after Hurricane Katrina, and I didn’t realize that it was not written in light of that event. Newman had written it three decades previously to tell the story of the Mississippi flood of 1927, which left 700,000 people homeless...

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