The Library recently received a two-disc tribute album to Fats Domino, the great New Orleans R&B singer (OK, I ordered it). Fats was thought to have died in his Lower Ninth Ward mansion during Katrina, but thankfully a Coast Guard helicopter plucked he and his family out of the flood waters. The collection includes some fabulous covers by New Orleans musicians and groups, but also some surprises from folks like Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Lenny Kravitz, Bonnie Raitt and Robert Plant.*
One of my favorite cuts is “I Just Can’t Get New Orleans Off My Mind,” sung by the wonderful Irma Thomas who, by the way, recorded “Time is on My Side” a couple of years before Mick Jagger lifted it and turned it into a Rolling Stones standard. I guess I like the aforementioned song because it reflects my state-of-mind right now. I’m about to get my annual “New Orleans fix” and I can hardly stand the wait.
Last year, when my return flight was canceled and it took me three days to get home, my wife picked me up at Logan. After a drive to the Jackson, MS airport and three flights to Boston, I was exhausted and apparently looked it. Pat tried to comfort me by saying: “well you don’t have to go every year.” After an awkward moment of silence, she said “oh.”
And I understand that my my family is tired of the conversations that careen into “well that’s like this or that in New Orleans” or “I just heard the coolest version of ‘St. James Infirmary’ while listening to WWOZ online.” Which reminds me of my arrival in New Orleans last year: before I left the rental car lot, I tuned the radio to WWOZ (where it stayed for the week) and, as I was leaving the Louis Armstrong International Airport, Tom Morgan opened his 11am show with Armstrong’s version of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” Yeah, I do.
So thank you for being my excuse to go back for yet another year. And my family thanks you for taking some of the pressure off of them.
*I promise to put it on reserves in Multimedia before I wear it out.