Few songwriters have summed up their artistic philosophy as neatly as Allen Toussaint did in his song “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues),” which became a Top Forty hit for Three Dog Night.
“Play something sweet,” goes the refrain, “play something funky; make me lay back and grin like a monkey! Play something I can understand!” The funkiness comes from Toussaint’s hometown of New Orleans, a city where the streets are frequently filled with funeral processions and carnival parades.
Fueling the music accompanying both is a hip-shaking syncopation that is absorbed by the city’s residents from the time they’re old enough to tag along after the marchers and form a “second line.” The sweetness of which Toussaint sings, though, comes from his own special genius.
Photography: Kevin Mazur, WireImage