Dr. John – Right Place, Wrong Time
In The Right Place
Dr. John – vocals
David Spinozza – guitar solo (1:35-2:04)
Allen Toussaint – piano, acoustic guitar, congas, tambourine, vocals, arrangements and conducting
Leo Nocentelli – lead guitar
Art Neville – organ
George Porter, Jr. – bass
Zig Modeliste – drums
“A lot of different artists pitched in to give me lyrics on the song, ‘Right Place, Wrong Time,’ which became one of the singles off the album (In The Right Place). Bob Dylan started it off by laying a line on me: ‘I’m on the right trip, but in the wrong car.’ Then Bette Midler gave me one: ‘My head’s in a bad place, I don’t know what it’s there for.’ Doug Sahm also pitched in: ‘I was in the right set, but it must have been the wrong sign.’ Everybody gave me a little something, which helped because I was way short of a finished song. They got me inspired and I came up with the old Ninth Ward slang, ‘I’m just in need of a little brain salad surgery,’ which was a way of saying you’re out looking for head. The brain salad surgery bit got caught up in pop slang through my record promoter, Mario Medious, who was also working as a promoter for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They heard the “brain salad surgery” rib and used it as the title of their next album.”
–Dr. John, Under A Hoodoo Moon: The Life Of The Night Tripper, pp. 190-91
Happy birthday to Dr. John, the Night Tripper and New Orleans preservationist, who turns 72 today. In The Right Place was his 1973 commercial breakthrough, still the best selling album of his career, and featured the lowdown NOLA funk of The Meters as his backing band. That always helps. That said, the guitar solo was thrown down by David Spinozza, who played on John Lennon‘s hit-and-miss ’73 album, Mind Games, and had previously played on Paul McCartney‘s brilliant Ram album. This is a good guitar solo, but I’m not sure it’s anything better than Leo could’ve come up with.
If you’re looking for the connective tissue between Dr. John, Bob Dylan, and Bette Midler circa In The Right Place, look no further than Doug Sahm. Dylan and Dr. John played together on a pair of Sahm albums released in 1973, Doug Sahm And Band and Texas Tornado, with Dylan contributing guitar, organ, harmonica, and harmony vocals, while the Doctor played piano and organ.
As for Bette Midler, Jerry Wexler, producer of Dr. John’s Gumbo (1972) and Doug Sahm And Band, said when asked about Atwood Allen, “Atwood was there with that high Johnnie & Jack harmony*. So great. In a strange way, Bette Midler used to hang around, and she was just coming along, and she and Atwood got very chummy.”
* “Poison Love” was a top 10 country hit for Johnnie & Jack in 1951 and cut for Doug Sahm And Band on October 9, 1972, featuring Dylan on guitar and Dr. John on organ.
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, here’s Dr. John’s memorable performance at The Last Waltz, which took place on Thanksgiving Day 1976 (November 25).
Dr. John – Such A Night
The Last Waltz
Winterland, San Francisco
November 25, 1976
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! “If I don’t do it, somebody else will.” Live it, learn it, know it.