Voodoo Threads

The Cultural Trajectory of Dr. John’s ‘I Walk on Gilded Splinters’


  • Philip Hayward University of Technology Sydney and at Southern Cross University (Australia)
  • Matt Hill Southern Cross University




Dr. John, ‘I Walk on Gilded Splinters’, Mac Rebennack, New Orleans, New Orleans creole culture, voodoo


This article traces the manner in which a particular composition steeped in New Orleans’ creole culture (and in voodoo, in particular)—Dr. John’s ‘I Walk on Gilded Splinters’—has undergone a series of transitions since its original recording in 1967. The article commences with a discussion of the song, related repertoire and Dr. John’s creative persona with regard to the composer’s New Orleans heritage. Subsequent sections provide an account of the manner in which the composition has become established within a number of soul/rock/pop genres, and identify those elements that have been core to its successive modifications. Moving to a more contemporary focus, the article identifies the manner in which Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Dr. John’s particular reactions to it revived and re-inflected his creative persona. The conclusion reflects on the significance of the composition’s cultural trajectory over 50 years of performance and of the shifting nature of the composer’s presentation of his material for different audiences.

Author Biographies

Philip Hayward, University of Technology Sydney and at Southern Cross University (Australia)

Philip Hayward is a member of audio-visual ensemble The Moviolas and is an adjunct professor at the University of Technology Sydney and at Southern Cross University (Australia).

Matt Hill, Southern Cross University

Matt Hill is a songwriter and performer and is the course coordinator and lecturer in music at Southern Cross University (Australia).


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How to Cite

Hayward, P., & Hill, M. (2017). Voodoo Threads: The Cultural Trajectory of Dr. John’s ‘I Walk on Gilded Splinters’. Journal of World Popular Music, 3(2), 262–285. https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.v3i2.26263



Cultural Trajectories of Popular Music