NOLA’s favorite son has left us. I know, I’ve blogged about Allen before…and I’m sure there’ll be more to come. He was such a force and at the same time, a gentle giant. He was truly one of America’s great songwriters. When he sat down at the piano (saw him again in concert just last year) all of us in the audience were like little kids eating out of his musical hand. His stories both musical as well as the ones around the songs always made me smile. Isn’t that what music is all about? Making you feel good (or at least feeling better).
In my garage band days back in 1966 I saved up all my money and bought a used Fender Precision bass. One of the first riffs that came out of my amp was that cool bass line from his Working in the Coal Mine. His song list is just plain remarkable; Mother-in-Law, Southern Nights, Fortune Teller, Java and What Do You Want the Boy to Do? The Stones, Labelle, Elvis Costello, Harry Connick Jr, Jerry Garcia and Glen Campbell owed so much to him. Allen gave them the songs that they put their fingerprints all over.
I’ll never forget during an interview in NYC back in 1998, Allen caught wind of the fact that it was my birthday and he smiled that big grin of his and while perched over the piano he began playing “Happy Birthday” just for me! One of my greatest memories. God bless and thank you Allen Toussaint.