Mac Rebennack, whose alter ego was the much more famous Dr. John, died today. I am a big fan of his music. True to form for me, I know virtually nothing about his life. Apparently he was 77 years old. That’s a little older than I would have guessed. So, I can’t say much about him, but the music he left us is incredible.
I first discovered Dr. John when I was in high school. His new album at the time was “In A Sentimental Mood.” It’s certainly not typical Dr. John. The title is apt. But it caught my teenage attention. There’s just something about him, I just knew he was the real deal. I suppose I had probably heard “Right Place, Wrong Time” before “In A Sentimental Mood,” it must have been his biggest hit, but “In A Sentimental Mood” was the first one I really listened to.
Not that there’s really any such thing as typical Dr. John. He played everything from blues to funk to jazz to big band to rock to R&B. Basically, if a music came out of New Orleans, Dr. John played it and played it better than most.
The album that solidified my love of Dr. John has to be “Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack.” It’s a solo piano album, and it’s incredible. He only sings on two of the tunes, but you don’t miss anything. It sounds as full as a big band. It was on “Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack” where I really discovered Dr. John’s left hand. I could listen to just his left hand all day. Whether the song was fast or slow, the boogie never quit.
I don’t have much more to say. He kept making beautiful new music into the current decade. I’m just sad that he’s gone. I’m going to spend the next few days listening and appreciating. And I’ll be thankful for every note he plays.