When I saw the new movie The Jungle Book, which I loved, I discerned the voice of Dr. John during the end credits instantly. My friend Jon said, “I’m not familiar with him.”
So I did my best whiskey-soaked vocal impression of his Right Place Wrong Time. It was recognized right away, both then and the next day as I retold this story. Despite him playing the music for well over a half-century, that one song from over four decades ago is still remembered.
Malcolm (Mac) Rebennack, born on 20 November 1940 in New Orleans, and has worked as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and especially pianist since the late 1950s.
He put out an album in 1968, Gris-Gris, which stiffed at the time, but became well regarded in subsequent years..
His fifth album, Dr. John’s Gumbo, was a collection of covers of New Orleans classics. He had a minor hit, Iko Iko (#71 in 1972).
Then came the album In the Right Place. The singles Right Place Wrong Time (#9 in 1973) and Such A Night (#42 in 1973) marked the high point in his merely commercial side.
“The song ‘Right Place Wrong Time’ was featured in an episode of American Horror Story: Coven and also in the movies Dazed and Confused and Sahara, as well as the trailer for the second season of Fargo. A verse lyric from the song (‘Just need a little brain salad surgery/got to cure my insecurity’) was the inspiration for the title of the album Brain Salad Surgery by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.”
But as his 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction notes: “Beyond his vast discography as a recording artist, the list of sessions on which he’s played for others is lengthy and impressive…”
Dr. John was at Alive at Five this week in Albany. Alas, I missed it.
Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya HERE.
Iko Iko HERE. A description HERE.
Right Place Wrong Time HERE or HERE.
Such A Night HERE.
Bare Necessities HERE.