Growing up, I remember singing a jingle about the Louisiana SPCA and Japonica Street. Can you settle a bet by giving me the full lyrics and the back story?
The jingle you remember was composed by none other than Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Allen Toussaint. The legendary songwriter and music producer wrote and performed “You Can Find a Friend on Japonica Street” for the Louisiana SPCA in 1985.
The project was inspired by Debbie Haslam, whose husband Ed was an advertising jingle writer. According to a March 1985 article in The Times-Picayune, she asked her husband to create a jingle for the organization in gratitude for the care that shelter workers gave to a stray cat she adopted named Wavy. Later, she heard the organization being criticized for euthanizing animals due to overcrowding at the 9th Ward shelter.
“It made me mad when I heard it depicted as a horrible organization,” Debbie Haslam told the newspaper. “I wanted to do something for them.”
Ed Haslam wrote the lyrics, which referenced the shelter’s location at 1319 Japonica St. He recruited Toussaint to write the melody and perform the song.
Here are the lyrics: “Lookin’ for a dog, say Japonica Street / Find a stray cat, say Japonica Street / Want to find a pet, just to warm your feet / A little puppy dog on Japonica Street / SPCA, a place to find your dog when it runs away / SPCA, a little kitty cat for your kids today / Come on down to Japonica Street / Warm up your heart on Japonica Street / There’s a lotta life that you can meet / You can find a friend on Japonica Street.”
It's a memorial honoring nine slain civil rights activists.
The SPCA moved to its current location at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. on the West Bank after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Japonica Street facility.