Sunday, 13 December 2015

Songwriter Sunday: Why I Think Allen Toussaint Is Great (and You Should Too)

By Marshall Jacklin

(via Bitter Empire)
 As the end of the year eases towards us, I’d like to remember a legend who passed away on November 10, 2015. Allen Toussaint was a massive musical talent, not only an all-star songwriter, but a fantastic pianist, singer, and producer. Both his songs and productions will forever be associated with the musical fabric of New Orleans. 

What I love about Toussaint’s songs is that they are a seamless mix of American music;  jazz,         R and B, pop, and rock and roll all co-exist, yet do not compete with one another, which I believe is only possible in someone who has truly absorbed all these styles through time and love in an authentic and natural way. And though he is steeped in tradition, his music still feels relevant in today's world, especially lyrically. Take, for example, the lyrics below, which for me resonate in issues of freedom, race and human rights,  which continue with prevalence. 

My personal favorite of his songs is the same one that introduced me to his music, Southern Nights. Though I’ve never been anywhere near the south, hearing that song made me feel like I knew something about it, (and maybe I did after all). It takes a special gift to have music and words line up in such an escaping way.

Oh, and by the way, he could do a heartbreak song as good as anyone

Hurricane Katrina scattered Toussaint and many of other New Orleans musicians from the city they loved, but thankfully he was able to return home before it was his time to go, and grab a couple more of those Southern Nights. The man himself might be gone, but I’ll still be traveling through his songs for a long while yet.

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