Marie Laveau: ballad of the legendary Voodoo Queen
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show LP cover
Music Period: 1970s
Musical Mode: Ionian Mode
Dedicated to the legendary Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau was composed by award-winning writer Shel Silverstein in collaboration with folk songwriter Baxter Taylor and first recorded in 1971 by the rock band Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show.
In a slightly ironic and exaggerated form, the song extols the skills and appearance of this powerful mid-19th century Voodoo practitioner who had a huge impact on many aspects of contemporary life, bringing together the Catholic tradition with spiritual folkways of Louisiana Voodoo.
In her daily life, Marie Laveau worked as a hairdresser, a very handy craft for attracting affluent clients and being privy to the town's gossip. Politicians, lawyers, businessmen, and wealthy plantation owners have come to her for advice before making an important decision, while runaway slaves credited their successful escapes to her powerful charms. Thanks to her influence, Catholic saints were included in the Voodoo belief system, and the convergence of the two religious traditions led to an increase in her followers. So much so that some of her rites were later able to attract more than 10,000 people.
Listen to Marie Lavaux by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show:
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show performed Marie Laveau in a somewhat formulaic manner using three primary major chords in the key of B major, and this fully major harmonic progression sometimes seems ill-suited for the haunting vocals meant to convey spiritual voodoo environments.
Discover more songs composed in Ionian major mode and check out their harmonic analysis in the following articles:
- 6 songs to unpack Ionian mode and the major scale
- 9 Beatles songs that combine harmonic major with Ionian mode
- Tumbling Dice: hundred reels of tape for a messy Rolling Stones mix
- D'yer Mak'er: meaning of Led Zeppelin's most controversial song
- Sugaree: Jerry Garcia's song referencing his lyricist's criminal past
- Statesboro Blues: no one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell
- Hushabye: folk roots of famous rock and roll lullaby
- Coal Miner's Daughter was forced to remove a third of the lyrics from her autobiographical song
- I Wanna Be Sedated: pure classical harmony cementing the Ramones' hit in punk rock history
- Seven Seas of Rhye: song of imaginary land brought to life by Ionian and Mixolydian modes
- Yakety Yak: teenager's answer to household chores in a hit song