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RIP Allen Toussaint

November 11, 2015

My conscious introduction to Allen Toussaint was from Robert Palmer’s Double Fun album where side two opened with “Night People.”  I thought that was the funkiest shit I had ever heard at 19 years old. Unconsciously I had heard his pop hits before, but did not know it.  It was the dawning of my musical enlightenment and I read LP credits like a hungry dog. I learned the song was by Allen Toussaint – whoever he was.

About a year later I was crate digging at Woolworth’s in downtown Minneapolis on my lunch break in the two for a dollar cut-out bins when I found Toussaint’s 1978 LP Motion. Its opening cut was “Night People.”  Now that was some seriously funky shit.

I learned yesterday of Toussaint’s passing via ?uestlove’s Instagram. I will leave it to bigger music heads and professional journalists to write Toussaint’s obituary.

I must have spun “Night People” a thousand time over the years and I have never sickened of it. Over time I learned who Toussaint was and his broad subtle influence on pop music.

I got to see Toussaint live many years ago at the old Guthrie Theater. He was solo at a grand piano pumping out his songbook. It is one of my great concert memories. Not only the music, but what gentleman he was – it just radiated out of him.

Toussaint is a great interpreter of his own work, but he is more famous as a producer and songwriter. There are so many great covers of Toussaint songs, from schmaltz artists like Glen Campbell, to the edgy and hip like the Rolling Stones. His duet album with Elvis Costello is pretty great.

Toussaint’s music is soul music, but it is unique in that is always dripping in Nola funk – it has a unique groove – even when covered by the most milk-toast singer.   A national treasure is lost, but his music lives on.

Recommended listening is his Warner Brother’s sides from the 70s:

  1. I can’t help it. You are hitting some chords one after another. I’ll keep it simple. I really like this man and his music. Seen a doc on him a while back. You can’t help liking him.

    • I had the great honor of seeing live in an intimate setting. It was spiritual.

      • I bet. Amazing how much music was in Allen. So many songs. He’ll be popping up on CB’s take for sure. ‘Mother in Law’ isn’t that spiritual but I love that song.

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