Louisiana, oil part of a song about the search for truth.

photo of Erin McKeown

[Updated] Singer Erin McKeown has twice visited New Orleans as part of Air Traffic Control's activism retreats. Through those visits, she connected to the Gulf Restoration Network and the issues connected to the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. Recently, she and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow collaborated on a new song, "Baghdad to the Bayou," which they wrote by swapping text messages. 

According to McKeown:

I asked her to send me, like, where are you today? What do you see? What are the names of some of the places you’re at? For example, one day she was in Plackman’s [sp] Parish, in southern Louisiana, and I love that word. I think that’s a great word. And I ended up putting it in the chorus because it’s a lovely word, it’s an amazing place, and writing-wise it’s a really fun word to rhyme. So we started out with that, and then a couple weeks later she was in Baghdad, and I said, “How’s Baghdad?” and she said, “oily.” And it was like, “Right, of course.” That’s what connects these places, and that was the idea: what is it that connects these different places, and what is it that we’re trying to do by connecting them? And I think the answer to that is what the song is saying: asking for transparency, asking for truth. Like, don’t lie to me about what happened at the spill, you know? Just own up to it. For example, don’t lie to me about what’s happening in Iraq right now. Expose it. I think Rachel does that really well on her show. She does that really smartly and really responsibly, so I think the song is an extension of that. Like, what’s happening in Tucson? What’s happening in Kabul? What’s happening in the Arab Spring? All these different things that are circulating and swirling around right now, what connects them all? And it’s this desire for truth.

Here's the song, performed by McKeown, Anais Mitchell, Sean Hayes and the David Wax Museum. 

Related Stories
A Dear Doc

Updated 4:36 p.m.

The title of the song is "Baghdad to the Bayou," not "Baghdad on the Bayou" as first written.