I've read an outpouring of tributes this week. I shouldn't be surprised by how many people were affected by both Allen Toussaint's music and his passing, yet as I listened to song after song, I couldn't help but think, "Man, he did that, too!"
I met the man once. It was my very first trip to New Orleans and I was at Generations Hall for something called "Piano Night." It was all still new to me. I hadn't discovered all the musicians that are now some of my favorite people in the world, including Jon Cleary and David Torkanowsky. I was wandering around in between acts and there was Allen Toussaint, larger than life, doing the same, completely approachable. It's hard to explain what I was feeling. Living in New York City, you bump into celebritites and musicians all the time. Many were regulars at my shop. For me, it seemed more likely to meet a Beatle or a Stone than some mythical giant like Allen Toussaint. But here he was and this is what happened.
Mr. Toussaint, may I take your picture?
Well, go ahead son.
I did and that was that. I was speechless for the next half hour or so.
I had to create a mix of the man, the songs he wrote, the songs he produced and the songs he performed. These 21 tunes just scratch the surface of his genius, so I added two more at the top and bottom of the page.
Yes We Can Can-The Pointer Sisters
Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)- Frankie Miller
Whipped Cream- The Stokes
When The Party's Over- Allen Toussaint
Ruler Of My Heart- Irma Thomas
Shoorah! Shoorah!- Betty Wright
Sneakin' Sally Throiugh The Alley- Lee Dorsey
On Your Way Down- Little Feat
Tell It Like It Is- Aaron Neville
Soul Sister-Allen Toussaint
Lipstick Traces- Benny Spellman
Back In Baby's Arms- Allen Toussaint
Night People- Robert Palmer
The Greatest Love- Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
What Do You Want The Girl To Do- Boz Scaggs
Southern Nights- Jon Cleary
Two Trains- Allen Toussaint & Leo Nocentelli
Deep Dark Truthful Mirror (Live)- Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
All These Things- Allen Toussaint
American Tune- Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Just A Closer Walk With Thee- Allen Toussaint