“When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear and loud than all opinions on the outside, you've begun to master your life.”
What’s an NJ singer-songwriter-yogi-electronic music gal like me doing adoring the heck out of a jazz-blues-funk-soul piano player from New Orleans?
I am In Awe …
I heard Dr. John for the first time back in NYC and from that moment on … I was in ‘love’ with his music, his legendary craft and his larger than life persona.
Also, I find his words and his expression to be gritty, wise and real on a core level that we don’t often experience in todays photoshop world.
As he would say, "I Dig It!"
Talking about him, sharing his words and his music is my reminder to self to stay true (and to pass on some inspiration to You!)
“We all, if we go with ego, I go, or you go, ego thing, it's got to be free from all of that and just roll, because music is a spiritual thing. It's got to come through us and can't just hit us. It's got to be part of us that comes through us and goes to the people, and then they come back to us and give us more spirit”
So ? (in case you don’t already know)
Who is Dr. John?
His born name was Mac Rebennack and legend has it that the persona of ‘Dr. John’ was based on a real life Dr John, a Senegalese Prince, healer and dealer of
gris-gris / voodoo charms who lived in NO.
Probably his most commercial tune is “Right Place, Wrong Time”
You also have probably heard his iconic versions of “Iko, Iko” or “Such a Night”
A 6 time Grammy winner
A 2011 Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee
Throughout his career his also worked alongside other legends like Clapton, Zappa, Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Carly Simon & James Taylor, Dave Groehl, Greg Allman, Dan Auerbach, and the list goes on ....
As the story goes, he was originally a guitar player, but during a brawl in the 60’s, the ring finger of his left hand was shot off and therefore he was forced to switch to piano …
That being said, the man could still jam when he picked up guitar during his live shows
Dr. John lived his life as one slick ‘cat’ embodying a persona of bright suits, ornate costumes tinged with the energy of New Orleans voodoo … Damn … If Only I could be That Cool …
And here begins the journey of learning from those we admire
A dear friend sent me this quote on the day of his passing
"Ya never too hot, never too cold, never too young, never too cold, never too skinny, never too fat, never too dis, never too dat, ya just are where you are & dat's where's at"
and it made me smile
After all isn’t this life about learning to be our True Self?
So Alas, he reminds me that I don’t have to be Cool and Slick like Him …
I just need to be Cool and Slick like ME
I always try to remind myself that skills and craft take TIME. I’m a work in progress when it comes to being patient with myself and the learning curves that come with a journey towards mastery. I found this story particularly inspiring. His playing is proof on how both a passion to learn plus hard work can pay off, big time!
"When I was a little bitty kid, my aunt showed me how to play a little boogie. It took me years. I had to play the left-hand part with two hands, because my hands was so little. Then as I grew up and I learned how to play the left-hand part with one hand, she showed me how to play the right-hand part, and et cetera….”
Parts of his life were lived on the darker side of things ... but like most legends who make it for the long haul, he transformed with age and strived to do good.
After Katrina he did a lot to help rebuild his beloved City of NO and one of his last albums, "The City That Care Forgot" featured the lower 911 and songs that talked about both the devastation of Katrina and the importance of loving one another.
The last time I heard him play was here in Nashville - So I’ll leave you with a snippet of a song (from the aforementioned album) that moved me from that performance
"The world we know was built on skills,
But that alone don't count.
Without the sweat and toil of mine,
It wouldn't be worth a dime.
You got to live and give, share and care,
Really put some love in the air.
When your neighbor's down, try to pick him up, Nobody can live in despair.
Society has no priority, We're all one part of a whole.
When people scream and shout, You hafta hear 'em out
Everybody is a beautiful soul.
Truth be told, I learned a lot from writing this little missive. It’s a powerful thing when we honor the memory of the remarkable people who inspire us and take a moment to delve a little into their history.
“I'd rather have the whole world against me than my own soul”
Rock On! Be Inspired!
Til We meet again :)
Big Love and Healing Charms
Fun Fact for you Muppet fans - the character of Dr. Teeth was pretty much based on Dr. John.