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Clip: Fats Domino Is Setting a Resilient Example

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  • Carl Z.
    Fats Domino Is Setting a Resilient Example By JON PARELES Published: February 28, 2006 NEW ORLEANS, Feb.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2006
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      Fats Domino Is Setting a Resilient Example
      Published: February 28, 2006

      NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 27 — Fats Domino starts his first album since 1993
      by singing, "All over the country, people want to know/ whatever
      happened to Fats Domino." It continues, "I'm alive and kicking and I'm
      where I wanna be."

      That's the way he still feels about New Orleans, although his house in
      the Lower Ninth Ward was severely damaged by the flooding after
      Hurricane Katrina. "As long as I'm in New Orleans, I'm not away from
      home," he said in a rare interview at the uptown club Tipitina's. He's
      living in a suburban-style housing development in Harvey, La., but he
      intends to rebuild his house and return to the Ninth Ward as soon as
      he can. Asked about the prospects for his city, the perpetually
      optimistic Mr. Domino said, "Everything's gonna be all right, I

      "Alive and Kickin'," the title track of his new album, may remind
      listeners of the image of Mr. Domino being rescued by helicopter from
      his flooded house on Sept. 1. But like the rest of the album, which
      includes 11 songs Mr. Domino had never recorded, it was actually made
      in 2000. (The studio where it was recorded, Ultrasonic, is gone since
      the flood.) After the hurricane, he said, "everybody got interested in

      The album is being released as a benefit for the Tipitina's
      Foundation, which has aided New Orleans musicians with everything from
      Internet service to new eyeglasses to more than $300,000 worth of new
      instruments. It is available from www.tipitinasfoundation.org.

      "I think it's a pretty good song, and it fits what's happening now,"
      Mr. Domino said of the title track. Mr. Domino, who is 78, lost three
      pianos and most of his other possessions in the flood; afterward,
      looters took most of the gold records he earned in the 1950's, when he
      was the second-best-selling singer after Elvis Presley. But when he
      was awaiting rescue, he said, "I wasn't too nervous." He added, "I had
      my little wine and a couple of beers with me; I'm all right."

      The album mingles Mr. Domino's rolling New Orleans rhythm-and-blues
      piano and horns with touches of synthesizer or slide guitar. His
      genial croon can sound close to country music, a style he likes, he
      says, because "it tells a wonderful story, true stories."

      Some of the new songs now sound prophetic for Mr. Domino and the
      people of his city, proclaiming "I'll Be All Right" or announcing, in
      "One Step at a Time," that "My baby's coming home today" and adding,
      "Please don't change your mind, it's been such a long time." In "Home
      USA," he sings, "I'm going home tomorrow/ Can't go on this way,"
      continuing, "I'm headed for New Orleans, La."

      There can be a painstaking process behind the straightforward songs,
      Mr. Domino said. "I have a hard time pleasing myself with my songs,"
      he said. "I have to do them over and over until I think I got them
      right. I'm always finding fault, but the people seem to like them. I
      always figure I can do something different that I wouldn't have
      already. I may not be right, but I don't want to be too far wrong."

      He has an electric keyboard by his bed, in case he wakes up with an
      idea. "You try to dig for it, you'll never find it sometimes," he
      said. "Sometimes you could do it in an hour, sometimes in three weeks,
      a month, sometimes it just comes to you like that. I get the spirit,
      and whatever happens, let that happen."

      Mr. Domino hasn't performed since the hurricane, but he is to be one
      of the headliners at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which
      begins April 28. As far as he is concerned, New Orleans is still home.
      "I know I'm not leavin'," he said with a smile. "I ain't going
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