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Friday, September 09, 2005


Wow.

Yesterday, while rehearsing in Brooklyn, I stopped to check my email, and my pal Steve had written to reassure me that Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans musician I’ve damn near revered for decades, was alive, well and guesting on the Letterman Show, where Steve works as a writer. Very nice to read, as was Steve’s support and corroboration of some of my recent goofball/spiritual blog entries on syncronicitous felicities and coincidentalish numinosities.

I also received disappointing news from mon pal Baptiste that he was not able to come visit from Paris as expected. So, after another rehearsal today (which was at one point interrupted by a call from New Orleans’ own Biff Rose), I headed into NYC to see Bettye Lavette perform at Joe’s Pub. Lavette’s a “soul” singer (“whatever that means” as she laughed on the phone a few days ago while I interviewed her) who’s been at it since I was an infant and is only now getting a taste of real respect and success.

She’s incredible, and it was a damn shame Baptiste couldn’t be there as we’d planned. Nevertheless, I was inspired by the show and by Ms Lavette. Along with joining the throng to cheer Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson as their SMILE finally premiered at Carnegie Hall, Bettye’s success is another grand entry in the annals of “About Fucking Time” I was thrilled to witness, and an inspiring event in times too full of the dispiriting kind. She wailed, ruled and owned the house.

So I went backstage to say hi to Bettye, who left her dressing room to meet a spontaneous ovation from the small group of friends, fans and associates gathered to greet her. Bettye, overcome with tears, radiated the kind of joy that comes from dreams realized and hard work triumphant. Pretty good, all that, and “Dayenu” as we sing at Seder. But… wonder of wonders… who do you suppose I suddenly discover standing beside me?
ALLEN TOUSSAINT.

Yep, Allen Toussaint! Holy shit! A warm fellow, the great man is. His beautiful eyes (well, it's true... no better way to describe 'em) revealed deep sorrow and enormous heart. He cut an elegant figure even while undoubtedly reeling from the catastrophe, and all I could do was gush about how good it was to see him well and safe after his ordeal. I told him what his music meant to me, and this guy -- who has heard such well-deserved praise from countless music lovers for as long as I’ve been alive – responded with honest humility and gratitude. Just to shake his hand was an honor I'll long treasure. So then I talk a bit with another Bettye fan... get this… Elvis Costello. He said that he had “best seat in the house” because he’d sat next to Toussaint. And then we discussed our mutual pal, Baptiste, whose inability to make the trip to NY disappointed Elvis as well.

Elvis Costello, whose album “This Years Model” received a daily, mandatory 7 listens a day back when I was a teen, was as sorry as I was that Baptiste was not with us! Isn’t it all pretty damn groovy? I sat outside later on, enjoying a smoke as Costello and wife Diana Kraal walked, 2 lovebirds, off into the Manhattan night. Despite the grim anniversary approaching again this weekend, The city still stands, still shines and still sings. Just as Bettye Lavette does, as Allen Toussaint does, and as his and Biff Rose's city will once again someday.

I listened to some of the rehearsal tapes for the Knitting Factory set, thought about my amazing wife Shelley and our perfect little Lily and Miles, finished my smoke and headed home.

Oh yeah, also among the email recieved was a note from my dear friend Jennica, who appended this, from Goethe:
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

And I say to myself, it’s wonderful, wonderful, as I go riding merrily along.

Comments:
Help me Dude, I don't think I'm meant to be in this blog..

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up here. You know I'm sure I saw Elvis in my local sports bar yesterday, which is really strange because usually I see him in the supermarket.

Honest really, last time buying a few groceries there he was right in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasma tv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask ma good ol buddy Michael Jackson to come round and we're gonna watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)
 
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