“It's my carnival, it's a lovely day
Well, it's my carnival, it's a lovely day
Well, all you people, getting ready to play
I want to hear you say, come on down
This is my carnival, it's a lovely day ….”
Recently, John Wirt, former renowned Advocate journalist, music connoisseur, and my Facebook friend, posted something about the late music legend Allen Toussaint—including that the latter would've been 80 on January 14. Unfortunately, Toussaint, who had the Sea-Saint Recording Studio in Gentilly, crossed over to the other side of making wonderful joyful sounds unto the Lord on November 10, 2015.
With this backdrop and with Mardi Gras coming up, I was immediately drawn to a few flashbacks: 1975, when I was about 16, just budding in my guitar-playing with buddies David, Marshal, Neal, and Scott, at the then “Penny Post” Coffee House that was on Daneel Street—that allowed neophyte musicians like us to play on “open mic” days.
Even though the Beatles were long since disbanded, I had been a late baby boomer to appreciate the Fab Four's music, so we would jam sometimes with songs like “Can't Buy Me Love” and “And I Love Her.”
That was the year that Paul McCartney and his Wings band flew incognito into the Crescent City, after their successful 1973 Band on the Run LP, to complete recording the cool Venus and Mars LP at Sea-Saint Studios—after having recorded some of the tunes in late 1974 at Abbey Road in London.
We all almost had a Lennon-McCartney reunion in da Big Easy dat year, as John Lennon reportedly had hoped to join his former famous partner at Sea-Saint, but this got crashed with Lennon's own reconnection at that point to Yoko Ono after a brief hiatus.
How can I forget the rumors that Scott and others had gotten back then about Paul and his sweetheart, the late Linda Eastman McCartney (renowned photographer), being in town—long before social media's help with keeping up-to-date on celebrity happenings?
We did hear about Paul and the gang reportedly being at some French Quarter inn, but we couldn't sneak away to Bourbon Street enough as high schoolers to make some “Billy Shears” sightings. Later, we found out that Paul and da gang had sublet an apartment and mingled in with all da local Yats without much incognito—until they dressed up as clowns for Mardi Gras Day!
As John Wirt noted in his 2015 Advocate article, McCartney recalled “’My Carnival’ on Venus and Mars re-release,” that 1975 Mardi Gras was the first and only “Greatest free show on Earth” in which one of the two only remaining Fab Four's band members ever attended. I sure wish that Paul was coming back this year—maybe this time with the other Beatles survivor, Ringo Starr, who is also now a “Sir,” knighted recently by Queen Elizabeth.
And according to an Offbeat magazine February 1, 2014, article, on Lundi Gras, Paul and Linda got to join the great Boogie Woogie artist, Dr. John (Malcolm John Rebennack), at his then-annual “Mardi Gras Mambo” at the St. Bernard Civic Auditorium that also had The Meters. And the Wings’ “king and queen” actually initially got kicked off the stage by Dr. John's security crew, since Paul and Linda's clown masquerade outfit gave doubts to their real identity!
While “My Carnival” was not found on da Venus and Mars LP, it continues to be the rhythm and blues for you and me. As Paul so well alluded to on the intro to his best-selling single, “Listen to What the Man Said,” from the Venus and Mars LP—that featured the great saxophonist, Tom Scott, with a cool solo:
“Allright, okay, Ha, Ha, Ha … very good to see you down in New Orleans, Man, Yeah! Hairy, Yeah, Yeah …!”
Some have speculated that it was Paul doing dat heavy Yat-sounding intro to “Listen to What the Man Said,” that almost sounded like Wolfman Jack and seems to refer to the late and great piano legend, Professor Longhair (aka, Henry Byrd).
As John Wirt noted in his 2015 “My Carnival” Advocate article, Sidney Smith, a renowned local Yat photographer, was asked by Paul to capture those “laissez les bons temps rouler” (let da good times roll!) sentiments in 1975, when the McCartney Wings entourage descended upon da Crescent City.
So, as you may soon be on St. Charles Avenue taking in the sights, sounds, and happenings of some great parades like Bacchus, Muses, and Zulu, keep your eyes peeled. You just never know if you may one day spot Paul again going down those “long and un-winding roads,” helping us all enjoy our “My Carnival”!