January 4, 2011: The Wreck of the BP Horizon

Early in the spill I pondered the horrific sinking of that huge deepwater rig on April 20, 2010. I also thought more needed to be done about reminding people of the problem of drilling for offshore oil–or any oil. The problem? That we need to eventually stop burning oil for fuel. Eventually we need to stop using oil from our earth for anything, but first we must stop burning it for fuel/energy.

I have musical taste which apparently has completely dropped off any scale of popularity. I was very young when our country went through a revival of interest in our frontier past. I adored Fess Parker’s depiction of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett funded by Walt Disney in the late fifties and frequently televised in the early sixties. I was five years old in 1960. Although I never got a coon skin cap, I would have loved one more than almost anything else.

Along with the revival of our exciting wilderness past in popular venues of the time we had popular music either replaying folk songs or inventing new songs strongly influenced by fiddles, banjos and guitars which represented what we thought, at least, were the frontier instruments available to our forefathers on the edges of civilization.

Jimmy Driftwood wrote “The Battle of New Orleans”–or at least introduced it to a wide audience–around this time (1960). Johnny Horton did a gold-record version of this song I think everyone knew and appreciated. I remember Remus Cruz, one of our native peoples of Gautier (native as in descended from the original settler, Pierre Beaudreau Graveline–who Jimmy Buffet also descends from) singing “The Battle of New Orleans” in front of our Gautier Elementary Grade School student body on a rainy 1963 morning before classes started. He clapped and hopped in an almost buck dance to accompany the song. I was infected with his excitement. It was about our area, what saved the Western U.S. from British takeover in the final battle of the War of 1812.

I’ve never lost my interest in folk and genuine country music. I clearly am outdated and appreciate music I thought would continue to be appreciated–just as the Beatles continue to be appreciated by younger generations.

It is an aesthetic that appreciates hand-made music and small ensembles created out in rough rural territory that informs my artwork–which is also out of style and rejected by the Art World Industrial Complex. But I won’t change or forgive the uncanny ability of museums, curators, and critics to ALWAYS guess wrong on what art is important at the time it is being made. They always fall for what the rich and powerful tell them to embrace.

And so I also do not regret writing a folk song based on Ernest Stoneman’s powerful song, “The Wreck of the Titantic” to eulogize the environmental disaster of 2010 right where the Battle of New Orleans was fought and about the same area Graveline settled in 1700 and I have depended on for my literal and visual sustenance.

It is not possible to sing or appreciate my song, The Wreck of the BP Horizon, without knowing Ernest Stoneman’s “Wreck of the Titanic.” Disaster songs about tragic accidents and events are part of the folk tradition in Europe and the USA and probably everywhere else people invent their own local music.

You can find “The Wreck of the Titanic” on youtube. I’ll say no more about this song. Instead, I’ll print here my lyrics I wrote, hoping someone might sing this song and that way spread the news of the disaster far and wide.


BP leased a rig to drill a hole at sea,
They told the MMS it was safe as safe could be,
But the gas they blew sky high eleven workers had to die,
It was sad when that great rig went down.

It was sad when that great rig went down,
BP lied all that oil they can’t hide,
It was bad when that great rig went down.

Transocean had a crew Haliburton had one, too,
BP controlled the rig from stem to stern,
When the gas blew up that well recalling scenes of fiery hell,
It was a lesson everybody needs to learn.


As the rig sank in the Gulf Blow-out valves were not enough,
The oil geysered out that mile-deep hole.
When the weather got real rough and the problem seemed too tough,
We found out there was noone in the know.


As the turtles wash ashore and the seafood is no more,
The cause of it is easy to see why,
Just remember what they said when our oceans were not dead,
Drilling safely in deep water is a lie.


I’ll download the images I made to accompany the lyrics. If I were a singer I’d sing this song and work up a video with my images and any photos from the disaster useable without restrictions to post on youtube. But I am no singer.

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