The note of anguish he added to Simon's vision of the Statue of Liberty drifting away to sea was a painful reminder of ideals that have been compromised. In the end, though, Boutte offered hushed words of reassurance, "It's all right, it's all right."
"We loved the songs we were playing live," Boutte, 51, says, "and Paul said, 'We need to document these tunes.' But I wasn't willing to let the standards of my records go down, so I wasn't going to do it until we had the money to do it in a real studio with real musicians.
"If the Threadheads hadn't come along, we might never have captured those songs, because Paul didn't have the money and I sure didn't have the money. And it's so important to capture songs when they're ready, because every moment is fleeting. You may never feel that way about a song again. So many of my friends who were musicians in New Orleans have passed this year -- Snooks Eaglin, Eddie Bo, Danny Barker, Willie Tee -- that it reminds you how quickly time goes by. If we don't capture this music, it will be forgotten."