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How’s Bayou?: So long, Solange!


Solange! ” the circumspect voice on the other end of the line breathed with an audible sigh. “You know, Beyoncé’s sister,” he barely whispered, clearly surprised at our ignorance of the pop scene.

A quick Google search brought us up-to-date with the twenty-seven-year-old’s life, and friends we called reported “Solange Sitings” in New Orleans during the last week of January, when we received the call at Madewood.

The agent said Solange wanted to retreat to an old house to be alone, to be inspired, to write, and possibly to record new songs.

She needed absolute privacy — perhaps to recover from not purchasing a house, which she’d not purchased once before, last autumn, in New Orleans. Would she be as indecisive about Madewood?

“Well,” the agent said, when we quoted a price for exclusive use of the mansion and grounds for three weeks, “We’ll get back with you.”

Over the years, we’ve welcomed stars who’ve filmed at Madewood or stayed with us while filming at nearby locations. Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Eric Stoltz and Judith Ivey were leads in director Bill Condon’s first big film, shot mostly at Madewood — Sister, Sister — an unsuccessful rehashing of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Dirty-jobs poster boy, Mike Rowe, stayed at Madewood while cleaning out sludge in sugar-mill grinding equipment. Faye Dunaway was filming nearby and loved the wicker chair and basket in her Madewood bathroom so much that she offered to buy it.

Eva Marie Saint was here for the wrap party after Because of Winn-Dixie, much of which was shot in and around Napoleonville.

Bono dropped by, as did Jennifer Coolidge. And, of, course, Brad Pitt retired to Madewood during the day to learn his lines for Interview with the Vampire, when the staff had no idea who he was and were sorry he wasn’t Tom Cruise.

Last year, I received an e-mail inquiring if Madewood was the Greek-revival mansion, outside Napoleonville, Louisiana, where Bob Dylan, in the first volume of his autobiography, recalled spending the night with some biker buddies. If he did, no one here noticed. Call us lame on this one.

Clinton Kelly hosted the pilot, not picked up, of a proposed TV series, Mind Your Manners, that was shot at Madewood and featured London-based etiquette experts attempting to educate a group of heathens in the niceties of manners. Whoever drank from the finger bowls after training was voted off the island.

But Solange was different. Mysterious. Top Secret. And apparently not quite sure what she was looking for.

These folks, I thought to myself, are accustomed to penthouse suites. Wouldn’t the singer be expecting more than we could offer? And the temperature was expected to plunge into the twenties, making a house like Madewood more appropriate for a remake of The Big Chill.

What kind of song would the shivering Solange, with teeth chattering, compose and sing on the bayou?

I feared lyrics might materialize in this fashion:

This toilet seat is cold as ice!

I thought this house would add some spice

To my newest song,

But I sure was wrong.

I got some bad advice!

Got some bad advice, like the roll of dice,

Got some bad, sad, bad, bad, bad — advice!

The owner thinks he’s got a knack

For rhyming words,

So let’s cut him slack.

But his clever words are for the birds,

And one thing’s for sure, I won’t be back!

Got some bad advice. (He’s no Britton Trice)

Got some bad, sad, bad, bad, bad — advice!

For better or worse, we never heard back. We won’t be immortalized in song, but at least we won’t be mortified.



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