CULLMAN HAS WRITTEN FOR THE PARIS REVIEW, ANTAEUS, CREEM, DETAILS, ROLLING STONE, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, THE VILLAGE VOICE, AND VOGUE, AMONG OTHERS.

fats-domino.jpg


THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memorian
AIN'T THAT A SHAME: FATS DOMINO

October 26, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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Nobody but nobody communicated joy and pleasure better than Fats Domino. Oh, the Beatles came close, but early on John got mopey, George got petulant, and Ringo simply kept his head down, so that doesn’t count. But for Fats Domino, happiness was a given.

At a time when rock ’n’ roll seemed rife with sex and noise and the wild beat of anarchy, Fats Domino was the odd man out. A date with Elvis would start and end in bed, a night out with Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis would probably land you in jail, but a date with Fats Domino would probably just involve pork chops.

From his first recordings in the early 1950s through his final album in 2006, his style never changed, nor did it need to. With his sly, loping piano mixing barrelhouse with boogie-woogie, with those warm, casual vocals, his way of stretching words halfway around the block, and with Earl Palmer, the best drummer in New Orleans, and arranger, cowriter Dave Bartholomew in tow, his records sounded like nothing else on the radio.

And what records!

You made
BLAM BLAM
Me cry
BLAM BLAM
When you said
BLAM BLAM
Goodbye ….
Ain’t that a shame?

“I’m Walking’,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blue Monday,” “Walkin’ To New Orleans,” “My Girl Josephine,” “Blueberry Hill,” “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday,” “I’m In Love Again.” Those songs took him round the world many times, but always brought him back to New Orleans. In a career that spanned seven decades, he never changed his sound, he didn’t leave his wife or his neighborhood, and he seldom changed band members. His nods to fame were a habit of traveling with two hundred pairs of shoes, upward of thirty suits, and a penchant for jewel encrusted rings on at least five of his fingers.

When I interviewed Leonard Cohen in 1994, Fats Domino was one of the few musicians he name-dropped.:

People often think that I play some kind of conditional kitsch in relation to cultural artifacts, which simply isn’t true. “The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill” That’s as good as it gets, as far as I know. You know everything about that moment. You’re continually see-sawing back and forth between the secular and the spiritual, and from time to time you hit it right. It’s there in “Blueberry Hill” from Fats Domino. Everything is embraced, nothing is left out. “The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill.”

The first time I visited New Orleans, friends took me down to see the shiny pink Cadillac outside his house in the Ninth Ward. Most days, they said, he just stayed home and cooked jambalaya, gumbo maybe. We waited a while, just loitering outside, but he never came out, though one of his thirteen children looked out the window and waved. It felt like a blessing. Go in peace.

Years later, I heard him play at New Orleans’s Jazz Fest. He tore through an hour of his hits, backed by the best players on the scene, jazz cats and street cats, up-and-comers and veterans alike, playing their hearts out with love and clarity, leaning on the New Orleans’s groove he helped put on the map. And then he tore into another hour of blues and bawdy house music, songs I’d never heard before and will probably never hear again except in dreams. It was terrifyingly beautiful.

I slipped backstage, or what passed for backstage : an enclosure out of the sun with cool drinks and a few chairs. I was still shaken from the music, tongue tied, but I managed to ask if he could come up to New York and play.

“Oh, man,” he sighed. “I’d love to. You know, I’d love to!  But … what would I eat?”


petty.jpg

THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memorian
PETTY IN THE MORNING

October 3, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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PHOTO BY DAVID PUTHENRY, 1985.

PHOTO BY DAVID PUTHENRY, 1985.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
AT EISENBERG’S SANDWICH SHOP

August 25, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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© Universal City Studios, 1979.

© Universal City Studios, 1979.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
SAM SHEPARD

August 3, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
VOYAGE IN THE DARK

July 21, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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Photo: Dan McCoy, NARA, 1973.

Photo: Dan McCoy, NARA, 1973.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING

June 27, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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FROM THE COVER OF NONESUCH’S REISSUE OF MUSIC FROM THE MORNING OF THE WORLD.

FROM THE COVER OF NONESUCH’S REISSUE OF MUSIC FROM THE MORNING OF THE WORLD.

THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memoriam
DAVID LEWISTON, 1929–2017

May 30, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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A postcard of Albania, ca. 1910.

A postcard of Albania, ca. 1910.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
MY ALBANIA

May 24, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
LOSING

April 26, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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Valais, Switzerland, as depicted in the University of the New World’s Winter 1971-72 General Bulletin

Valais, Switzerland, as depicted in the University of the New World’s Winter 1971-72 General Bulletin

THE PARIS REVIEW

On Music
MR. BERRY AND MRS. BLAVATSKY

March 21, 2017
by Brian Cullman

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Valais, Switzerland, as depicted in the University of the New World’s Winter 1971-72 General Bulletin

Valais, Switzerland, as depicted in the University of the New World’s Winter 1971-72 General Bulletin

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
FLOWERS FOR HITLER

October 19, 2016
by Brian Cullman

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Giorgio Gomelsky.

Giorgio Gomelsky.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS

January 14, 2016
by Brian Cullman

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George Martin, 1926–2016.

George Martin, 1926–2016.

THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memoriam
YOU CAN STILL HEAR IT

March 14, 2016
by Brian Cullman

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Willard Cummings, Barracks Concert (detail), ca. 1942.

Willard Cummings, Barracks Concert (detail), ca. 1942.

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
WHAT ARE SONGS FOR

March 20, 2015
by Brian Cullman

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From a fifties-era Pan Am ad.

From a fifties-era Pan Am ad.

 

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
THE GORDON

August 24, 2015
by Brian Cullman

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Photo: Morven, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Morven, via Wikimedia Commons

 

THE PARIS REVIEW

First Person
A NEW YEAR'S DRIVE

January 11, 2014
by Brian Cullman

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The Jaymetts Record

The Jaymetts Record


THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memoriam
SIT AND CRY WITH THE DOOR CLOSED

October 28, 2013
by Brian Cullman

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Tom Forcade, Mayer Vishner, Abbie Hoffman, 1971.

Tom Forcade, Mayer Vishner, Abbie Hoffman, 1971.

THE PARIS REVIEW

In Memoriam
FIFTH BUSINESS

September 11, 2013
by Brian Cullman

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THE PARIS REVIEW

On Music
THINGS BEHIND THE SUN

December 27, 2012
by Brian Cullman

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THE PARIS REVIEW

On Music
FREEDOM AND LIGHT

December 17, 2012
by Brian Cullman

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THE PARIS REVIEW

On Music
HELPLESS: ON THE POETRY OF NEIL YOUNG

October 23, 2012
by Brian Cullman

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ROOTSWORLD

HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN

February, 2016
by Brian Cullman

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