You gotta rise up all the way before you can fall...
St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the oldest song on “When the World Ends.” Indeed, it pre-dates many of the songs on “Blades of Grass” too. I wrote it in my mind, while walking the streets of New Orleans on the worst day of my life. I felt a pull to that old cemetery for some reason, where Marie Laveau and many New Orleans jazz players are interred. I somehow felt that walking through that cemetery could show me the way forward. But the gate was locked.
And so I bounced out to the Quarter and absorbed the sounds of the street. I wondered what I would have said to Marie’s ghost. I wondered why she’d locked me out. And eventually I realized that I wasn’t ready to see her yet.
I realized something else that day too. We are all ghosts in a cemetery. We rise to work, and call others to the cause. We are already judged. But we reach for the sky nonetheless.
St. Louis Cemetery #1
Hey why you sleeping Marie? Ain’t it true what they say?
That you’ll come down to meet a guest about any time of day?
I’ve been everywhere, beat a path where I walked
But when I finally found your house your gate was locked
So I’m asking you now, let me pay you a call
Let me hold your hand, stare into your ball
Tell me all them things, but don’t you make me pray
Then I’ll leave you my soul, and I’ll be on my way
There ain't no time in the day for the folks on the balconies
When they’re playing a dirge on the road to Cimetière St. Louis
Hey why you sleeping Marie? I’ve got confessions to make
Ain’t no goodness left in me you know for goodness sake
I don’t regret what I done, just regret that it’s time
To say the doing is done, and move away from the light
If it’s not asking too much, I’ll make a request
Let me whisper her name, so I know she is blessed
Then pour your smoke over me, I can’t stand a delay
I’m gonna breathe it all in, then I’ll be on my way
There ain't no time for your pride or the truth or your vanity
When they’re saying the words over you in Cimetière St. Louis
You better wake up Marie or I’ll come back in the night
I’ll catch you dancing on the roof, I’m gonna bathe you in light
I know you’re in there Marie, I come here looking for hope
I’ll be right up to see you if you throw me some rope
I’ve got a penance to pay, gonna pay for it all
They say you gotta rise up all the way before you can fall
Gonna snuff every candle in Faubourg Tremé
Then you can open the floor, and I'll be on my way
You can let it all go, you'll never have another malady
When they hide you away in your tomb in Cimetière St. Louis