Why New Orleans?
You know my dad lived here for a while before he died. His second wife Gene was from the area, daddy and she lived in Mandeville for a while. Dad cooked, he was a great cook, worked out on an oil rig for a while, making eggs and grits and shrimp salad for the men out on the ocean. He also had a job, he and Jean working for the attorney general or something in New Orleans. She cleaned, he cooked. I keep thinking that it was the family of young Harry Connick Jr, but I don’t know. What a coincidence that would be. I was pretty ‘big’ at the time. Well you have to let your family go. You are staying at the Ritz. Your dad is the bus boy.
Anyway, I was always proud of him, because he had skills. His alcoholism not with standing, devastating, he still had these things he did, and was, and no matter what, that is how I saw him. That is the picture I see. A gentleman, my best friend once told me he was handsome. I didn’t really ever see that. A musician, he demanded perfection from me, and nothing I did was quite right. He was right about that. Though I give myself a pat on the back now, and let it go. It’s as good as I can do. and it’s not bad Daddy. A poet, and a father, he would sit me on his lap and read to me, and invent imaginary – well, the man in the moon for instance – things that I would talk to, and sing with, a world much more real than the terrible confinement of the day to day life I had as a child.
I cannot tell you how horrible it was to be a little person. I don’t know why, was it the fighting? The violence? Or just the sense of the despair of never achieving anything, all I might have done. I cast myself into the deep space, I pulled my self out that worlds gravity and into chance. I knew there was a possibility for me to escape and have a better life. And the loving destiny, chance, fate, it pulled me to it with it’s own gravity. I met people along the way on their way to their now destinys. But mine was clear. I had all the gifts all at once. I was
a shamed, and did all I could to throw them back, and then to amend for throwing them back, and then. finally the gifts of age. I wake up every day and say Beautiful day. Glad to be alive. Everything else is a fruit of that tree.
I do not pursue and then seek joy. I have joy, mostly, and then seek good things.
That’s been New Orleans. It’s an odd city, in away, an island really. like all island life, people live day to day, they do not plan much, they make due with what they have. I see a city of people who do not try to escape the gravity. And then, from time to time, I look into the eyes of some passing child, and see myself. Desperate to touch a better life, they knock on the door. Can i clean your yard? Do you need me to take out the garbage? Sure they might be casing the joint. But i suspect they need a few bucks, and I glow with the light of a chance for a better life. I m happy to share it. Here in New Orleans, the city shares everything with me. Its people, its peace, its crazy dance. But most of all I live between the sound of the river boat and the sound of the train, and somehow that connects me to every where i have ever been, the songs of rivers, the songs of trains. I am home now. The record went out to people this week. A few calls coming in. They like it, they get it. Feels good right now. This is the sweet spot of the future.
with gratitude – Rickie Lee