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NOLA 300 Music

Fats, Fess,”Snag-A-Tooth Jeannie,” the Meters and Bobby Marchan

Musicians, authors, artists, filmmakers and others share their favorite New Orleans songs

Huey “Piano” Smith raps comic rhymes in “Snag-A-Tooth Jeannie,” the A-side of his 1962 single for Imperial Records. There’s more fun on the flipside, “Don’t Knock It”—with a difference. Uncharacteristically, “Don’t Knock It” combines Smith’s signature groove, playful lyrics, and vocal-ensemble arrangement with pathos and regret. The male singers he hired for “Don’t Knock It” chant: “Don’t live but once, let’s have some fun, ’cause when you’re dead you’re done. I bet she’s loving someone else, pretending you’re the one.” Later in the two-minute song, Smith’s lead vocalist sings plaintively: “Well, I don’t know, but I been told, you’re never too young and you’re never too old.” In 2001, Smith, hearing “Don’t Knock It” for the first time in forty years, didn’t remember it. He couldn’t identify the singers. But however misty the backstory, however fragmentary the production, “Don’t Knock It” is a diamond. – John Wirt, author of “Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues”

Professor Longhair, Roy Brown, and Dave Bartholomew were heroes of mine. I knew their records and saw posters all over town bearing their names and pictures . . . Being around that environment had a lot to do with my deciding I wanted to be a musician. Listening to those cats made me dream of being like them, of being one of those guys who had loads of flash, fancy pianos and a lot of dough. – Dr. John, writing in his 1994 autobiography “Under a Hoodoo Moon: The Life of the Night Tripper”

Everything we’ve done so far, it just coordinates together. It’s what I would call organized freedom. You got four different ideas but the four different ideas all seem to work together. That’s what it boils down to, the Meters. - Art Neville, speaking to author John Broven
I give Dave a lot of credit, because he knew just what I wanted. He knew how to place the music. It looked like we were just two people workin’ together and understanding each other. – Fats Domino, discussing Dave Bartholomew with Rick Coleman, author of the award-winning biography “Blue Monday: Fats Domino & the Lost Dawn of Rock n’ Roll”

Bobby Marchan probably did more for the hip-hop scene out here than any other person, anybody. The first person that ever gave me a show. First person that ever paid me $1,500 to come rap in front of some people. He was the first. Bobby did the Gong Shows and he would let us come out. Singers. Rappers. Dancers. And, “Mister Sister”—he would come out in a dress. Yeah! Bobby let you rap and sometimes the Gong Show was on the West Bank and sometimes it was on the East Bank so we couldn’t avoid each other. – Rapper Tim Smooth, speaking to Alison Fensterstock in 2009