I write this just after having learned of the death of Antoine “Fats” Domino. I guess I thought he would live forever. Sadly, at least in this mortal realm, no one ever does.
I suppose that time passes so quickly we fail to take notice. It didn’t seem to me that Fats ever really got old. On the other hand, he had his first million selling record the year I was born, and no one confuses me with a spring chicken.
It’s really amazing when you consider his hit list. Thirty-five records that made the American Top Forty. Forty that made the R&B Top Ten list. Twenty-three singles that went gold. He sold more records than any other 50s rock ‘n roll artist with the exception of Elvis Presley. “Ain’t That A Shame.” “Walking To New Orleans.” “Be My Guest.” “I’m Walkin’.” “Blueberry Hill.” And all of those are just tips of the iceberg. Deservedly, he was one of the first inductees in the national Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Little Richard, no slouch in the music industry, called Domino “the greatest rock performer ever!” Paul McCartney and Randy Newman said they were profoundly influenced by his work and style.
Fats loved his home city of New Orleans. He once even turned down an invitation to go to the White House to receive an award in order to stay home. Some who knew him well said he told them, “They don’t have food in D.C. as good as ours in New Orleans!” He stayed home during Hurricane Katrina, having to be airlifted from his house which was completely destroyed. He lived in one of the less affluent neighborhoods of the city, seeking to give back to the community around him – not only material blessings but also hope and inspiration.
When he was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame, he made a brief statement, saying: “I always tried to make people happy through my music. Tonight you have made me very, very happy. God bless you.” Think of the power inherent in those brief and simple words. (a) He found strength and beauty in music; (b) He found delight in making others happy; (c) He was aware of the joy others brought to his life in return; and, (d) he was aware that all our blessings come from a Divine Source.
There are biblical principles embedded in that philosophy. “Give thanks in all circumstances,” Paul said. “This is my commandment, that you love one another,” Jesus said. “Bless the Lord, o my soul,” the psalmist wrote. When we are aware of the beauties around us and the blessings others bring to us – AND when we seek to make others happy, as well as to always remember the Source of our joy, then life has meaning and depth.
I reiterate: Sadly, at least in this mortal realm, no one lives forever. But in another Realm, there is Life that death cannot destroy. Hopefully that other realm has pianos, in which case Fats is already probably sitting at one singing with the angels. And, miracle of miracles, my guess is that the cuisine There is even better than in New Orleans!