Ever get stuck on a song? I do from time to time. Some mornings I will play a track, it will just hit me for six and I will have to play it over and over, sometimes for the whole journey and back again that evening. Maybe it’s a glitch in the matrix, or I am just a bit further along the spectrum than I’d like to admit, the fact I own some truly great music, or just some compatibility issues with Windows 98 software my brain is running on these days.
Today it was Fats Domino ‘The Fat Man’. A track I have loved for years but never stopped to listen to as intently as I have today.
Any excuse to see Fats’ smile, he just looked like such a nice man.
First up, much as I dig Little Richard’s jet propulsion and Jerry Lee’s feral fury, Fats Domino has always been my favourite rock and roll pianist. What a great voice he had, warm and melodic, gentle as a warm breeze. There was just a wonderful roll to the way he played* and if anyone has ever recorded a better song than ‘Blueberry Hill’ I have yet to hear it.
Laid down on December 10, 1949 ;The Fat Man’ is considered by many to be the first rock and roll single ever*. The intro shows off Fats’ ability to make a single piano sound like a whole orchestra – surely the man must have had three hands? and then there’s the lyrics:
They call, they call me the fat man ´Cause I weight two hundred pounds All the girls they love me ´Cause I know my way around I was standin´, I was standin´ on the corner Of Rampart and Canal I was watchin´, watchin´ Watchin´ all these Creole gals Wah wah wah, wah wah Wah wah waah, wah wah wah Wah wah waah, wah wah wah Wah wah wah Wah waaa-ah wah Wah wah wah, wah wah wah Wah wah wah, wah wah wah Wah wah wah I´m goin´, I´m goin´ goin´ away And I´m goin´, goin´ to stay 'Cause women and this bad life They're carrying this soul away
‘The Fat Man’ just makes me happy, maybe not quite as happy as all the girls he’s proven he knows his way around to, but pretty close. What an opening verse! And the vocalised brass/harmonica verses, followed by that kicker of a final verse … things just don’t get much better than that.
Surely you have to see why I must have played this tune over 30 times today? anyway, I can’t stay, I have ladies to please and a soul to squander.
858 Down (still).
*I think you can hear the legacy of all those wonderful stride piano players like Fats Waller in Domino’s playing.
**top scientists (seismologists?) and philosophers say it’s something to do with the drummer (Earl Palmer) playing the back beat all the way through. Dig it.