Allen Toussaint - Get Out of My Life, Woman
Wheeler, Dealer & Healer...
Like I said yesterday, I’m back, but maybe performing at a 75 – 80% level of competence. Should this post fail to meet Funky16Corners daily required amounts of music, information and or riboflavin, you may send the unconsumed portion back to the manufacturer for a full refund (It’s your stamp pally….). That caveat laid out shamelessly…. During my time in the hospital, and recovering at home, I’ve discovered that my saving grace (aside from my wife and the rest of my family who have made this process a lot easier than it had any right to be) was my MP3 player. A few years ago, as part of my lifetime quest to take left turns and fly down blind alleys in the face of obvious choices, my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I replied “IRiver!” The IRiver is an MP3 player/data storage thingy that occupies a relatively small portion of an MP3 player market dominated by Apple’s ubiquitous IPod. My research (actual and anecdotal) suggested that aside from locking myself out of the halls of hip consumerism forever, the IRiver was in fact more bang for the buck. Aside from some minor technical glitches in regard to creating playlists, the thing has worked like a dream. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting the opportunity to use it as much as I’d like. I don’t have a long commute, and God knows I have enough “music delivery” devices in my house, car etc to keep me busy forever. Little did I know that the cosmos brings MP3 players into your life for a reason, and that “reason” was on the horizon. When I was packing for the hospital, I figured that the IRiver would be good to have on hand. I’d been in the hospital a few other times in my life and remembered them as characterized by the kind of boredom usually reserved for being stranded on a desert island somewhere. Little did I know that the evening after the surgery would be marked by a level of pain I had never experienced before (i.e. the kind that hurts so bad you can’t think about anything else). Sometime during the surgery my back went into a spasm of some kind and wasn’t coming out of it (the surgery, ironically had nothing to do with my back). The next few days and nights were alternately spent in a stupor and begging for pain medication. During that time, the only way I was able to sleep (or at least relax) was to slap on the headphones and allow myself to be transported by music. The hit parade included ‘Ragas’ by Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Kahn, ‘In a Silent Way’ by Miles Davis, a set of Gershwin piano preludes by someone I can’t remember right now, Beethoven’s first five symphonies, John Fahey, and of course (because here at the Funky16Corners blog the conversation always manages to find its way around to Allen Toussaint, Eddie Bo or something else New Orleans-related), the 2-disc Sundazed ‘Get Low Down’ set which focused on Toussaint’s work (mainly on the Sansu label) between 1965 and 1967. Aside from the fact that those two discs contain some of my all-time favorite records, there’s something about the overall Toussaint sound that comes out of each and every one of those songs that I found comforting as I lay in bed drifting in and out of consciousness. Falling asleep to a Betty Harris ballad, or waking to the voice of Diamond Joe or Eldridge Holmes, or the sound of Toussaint’s rolling piano added a tiny, but significant element of comfort to an otherwise unpleasant situation. During the periods of time when my wife or another member of my family was unable to be in the room with me, the music was my escape. I’m happy to report that the pain (and the accompanying medication) has ebbed considerably in the two weeks since the surgery. I don’t feel like I wish I would, but I suspect that I will before too long. Anyway…the record I decided to blog today has been sitting around the “to be blogged bin” for a while, moved to the back burner for newer/hotter/more topical sides that I was more interested in writing about at the time. This delay should not be seen in any way as a reflection of the quality of the record, as it’s a killer. I figured, since Mr Allen Toussaint was kind enough to craft a body of work so wondrous as to heal the ill, I should return the favor (in what little way I can) by paying tribute. ‘Get Out of My Life, Woman’ is one of those legendary tunes that carry with it, no matter who records it, a built-in breakbeat. Though the version known to most is the Lee Dorsey hit, there are probably hundreds of covers out there, including efforts by the Paul Butterfield Blues band, the Leaves, Grasella Oliphant, on and on ad infinitum. The opening BOOM SHAK A BOOM-BOOM SHAK
BOOM SHAK A BOOM-BOOM SHAK beat, reproduced by dozens of anonymous drummers since the mid-60’s has provided sampler fodder for beatmakers the world over (which is especially relevant since with most of the records on which the song appears, the opening beat is as far as anyone would want to listen anyway). Well, floating out there in the sea of ‘Get Out of My Life, Woman’s, relatively unnoticed, is a version recorded by the maestro himself. Laid down in 1968 or 1969 by Toussaint, ‘Get Out of My Life, Woman’ is taken at a decidedly relaxed pace, with Toussaint only singing on the chorus, and his piano taking most of the attention. The record sounds as if Toussaint gathered a band on his back porch, fortified by patented mellowing agents one and all, and decided to make some very relaxed, very New Orleans in the summertime, very groovy music. I love the acoustic guitar (something Toussaint was using a lot in the late 60’s) and the occasional drop-ins by someone on the “boo-bams”. The only element that sounds like it needed to be done in an actual recording studio – the horn section – also manages to sound relaxed, adding just the slightest touch of polish around the edges. ‘Get Out of My Life, Woman’ has long since become one of my fave Toussaint-by-Toussaint records in my crates. I know that it’s been reissued somewhere along the way, but I can’t remember exactly where.