Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate - Domino style

Well, we made it back from NOLA, got the daughter graduated and saw the son and daughter-in-law (stopped in Houston) on the way home. It’s good to see them back in Texas. They sure seemed happy to be off The Mountain.

Saturday was a busy day for us. Up, walk the dog, go to brunch (found a great new Brunch spot with a Bananas Foster Po Boy that was “to die for”), stop on St. Charles for fabric and then to a dress fitting. After that it was walk the dog again, change and then rush to Tulane for GRADUATION!!! Next, to an early dinner and then Tipitina’s to see the fat man himself, Fats Domino. Enjoyed the warm up (Fat’s Brother-in-Law) and at about 10:30 Fats came on stage. Weren’t sure he’d show until he came out, Fats’ pushing 80 real hard and appearances are tough on him these days. Therein lies the rub.

Next morning, I asked the wife her impressions of the performance and they were the same as mine. Have mulled it over and in answer to a couple of people who’ve asked: “How was the show?” I’ve replied: "Bittersweet." It’s the only way I can define it.

The Fat Man's still as good as he was 50; no, going on 60 years ago. He’s one of my favorite performers. (I believe I’ve already mentioned that if I’m still upright when he dies, I will attend his funeral.) It was a limited crowd that was privileged to see him, Tip’s can’t hold more than 300 or so people and everyone there was in love with him. PBS had a crew to record the evening for an upcoming special. I will treasure the memory for a long, long time. But, what about the bittersweet part?

When he came onstage, Fats sat down at the piano and began singing and playing and the crowd started gettin’ in the groove. However, after doing three numbers, he got up and started to walk off. Fats appeared to think he was through with his gig. One of his entourage gently spoke to him and turned him back around where he sat down and began to play again. After that, before each new number, one member of the band would whisper in his ear and then Fats would rock out with another piece. Still the same smiling face, still the same hands at the keys and voice on the mike, he sounded as good as ever. But I was struck by how old he was and it seemed he was being handled like a “trick pony”. It may well have been his last public performance. Let me tell you, I was saddened. An icon of my youth was being directed by a handler. Time has a way of catching up with everyone and I guess Fats finally got caught too.

Therefore, this morning my prayer is he be allowed the dignity to live out the rest of his life in his beloved City, savoring the food he so enjoys, playing his piano, composing when the mood strikes him, recording only if he's moved. Don't push him to perform; let him become the new Ambassador of The City that’s been his life and which he's represented so well for so many years. As he continues growing older let him work and witness its necessary rebirth and rebuilding and truly become its next Icon.

Luck always Fats, we love ya'.


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