It’s been a pretty good beginning with a decent 60k tempo ride, followed by the mowing of the weed garden (ie. my yard), watching the women’s Olympic triathlon and then a 2000m drill swim. The best part though: the 40 minutes of gentle nothingness on the mat at the gym in the afternoon. Glorious.
It was even better with the ‘From a Whisper to a Scream‘ album by Allan Toussaint.
In case you’ve never heard of Allan Toussant before, shame on you. The dude is a New Orleans legend. L-E-G-E-N-D! He’s literally worked with the who’s who of the NOLA alumni including Dr. John, the Meters and, shit, name it. He’s worked for them all.
Maybe you just know him for that catchy Axe body spray commercial (click HERE).
Sadly, this was my first introduction to the guy.
I know, I suck.
Hey, at least I did eventually figure it out and gave him the props he rightly deserved.
Don’t judge me.
One of three children, Toussaint was born in 1938 in New Orleans and grew up in a shotgun house in the Gert Town neighborhood, where his mother, Naomi Neville (whose name he later adopted pseudonymously for some of his works), welcomed and fed all manner of musicians as they practiced and recorded with her son. His father, Clarence, worked on the railway and played trumpet. Toussaint learned piano as a child and took informal music lessons from an elderly neighbor, Ernest Pinn. In his teens he played in a band, the Flamingos, with guitarist Snooks Eaglin, before dropping out of school. A significant early influence on Toussaint was the syncopated “second-line” piano style of Professor Longhair.
Anyway, long story short: he’s the man.
This album, released in 1985 is crazy good. Like, kar-azy good. This is the album that made Lowell George want to make ‘Dixie Chicken‘. Highlights include including several must-have tracks such as ‘Workin’ in a Coal Mine‘, ‘Sweet Touch of Love‘, ‘Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky‘ and the title track. For the most part, Toussaint wrote these tunes for other artists, notably Lee Dorsey whose takes are the definitive vocal recordings. Funny though how Toussaint never achieved the same kind of acclaim that these other artists did. The world can be a cruel place, I guess. But there’s something absolutely magical about Toussaint’s vocal delivery. It’s so smooth and mellow, yet intense, soulful and funky. There’s nothing quite like hearing the composer sing his own songs and this album, from start to finish, is a fine example of Toussaint’s mastery of the “perfect song”.
Sadly, Allan left this world just this past November (2015) so I (we) have a lot of catching up to do which is going to be great for my yoga practice.