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Jimmy Remembers Allen Toussaint

It is rare in anybody’s life that your heroes wind up being your close friends. More than often those we worship from afar don’t quite measure up, the closer you get to them. Allen was simply one of the good guys. Behind his immense talent, was a mind, a heart and sense of humour few of us are blessed with.

Sitting here in Jamaica carrying on with my world, I am missing him from afar. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are missing him up close today in his beloved New Orleans.

I too will soon miss him close. When I realize I can’t text him about the Saints. When I go to New Orleans next week and there realize, that we can’t have dinner and talk about new talent in the city or plan fishing trips on Long Island next summer. That is when I will know that he is gone.

But as the good nuns and brothers used to tell us, “The soul lives forever”. Too many gifted people either squander their talent or never get to see themselves and their work appreciated fully. That was certainly not the case with the “Maestro”. He has left to the city he loved so much, a legacy, in my humble opinion, equal to Louis Armstrong. The body of work that his soul produced is hard to wrap your head around. Allen went out doing what he loved -play for people. You can’t ask for more than that.

It is a beautiful day here in Oracabessa on the north shore of Jamaica. Allen and I had talked many times about coming down to work on on songs together here and hang with Chris Blackwell, but we never got to do it.

So I am taking Allen paddle boarding with me this morning and when I get far from shore I am gonna sing to the top of my voice to the mountains behind me, the fish below, me and the birds above me these words from a song that befits the way I am feeling today penned by my gone but never forgotten pal.

I’ve got those optimism blues
they’re about to knock me outta my shoes
Never seen a grin sense
I don’t know when sense
I’ve got those optimism blues

The Optimism Blues by Allen Toussaint

Oracabessa, Jamaica
12 November 2015