Fats Domino – Walking to New Orleans

Fats Domino was one of the top artists of the 50s. He wasn’t wild or flashy like his peers but he was just good or better. When I think of the fifties…this is just me personally…I think of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Elvis, and last but not least… Fats Domino. Vastly different styles but all are great.

Domino was the youngest of eight children in a musical family, he spoke Creole French before learning English. At age 7 his brother in law taught him how to play the piano. By the time he was 10, he was already performing as a singer and pianist.

Fat’s first hit in the Billboard 100 was the great “Aint That A Shame” in 1955 written by  Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew that peaked at #16 and his last charting song was a cover of the Beatles “Lady Madonna”(great version) that peaked at #100 in 1968. He had 45 songs in the top 100 and 4 top 10 hits…many more top 10 hits in the R&B Charts.

As soon as these artists faded at the end of the fifties and Buddy died…there were 3 or 4 weak years in the early sixties until that band from Liverpool came…gosh I can’t remember their name.

Walking To New Orleans

This time I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m going to need two pair of shoes
When I get through walkin’ me blues
When I get back to New Orleans

I’ve got my suitcase in my hand
Now, ain’t that a shame
I’m leavin’ here today
Yes, I’m goin’ back home to stay
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

You used to be my honey
Till you spent all my money
No use for you to cry
I’ll see you bye and bye
‘Cause I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

I’ve got no time for talkin’
I’ve got to keep on walkin’
New Orleans is my home
That’s the reason while I’m gone
Yes, I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans
I’m walkin’ to New Orleans

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill

I found my thrill
On Blueberry Hill

Domino’s real name was Antoine Domino. He placed 37 songs in the US Top 40. Blueberry Hill” was his biggest hit and best seller, spending 11 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart.

When I hear this song I automatically think of Happy Days when Ritchie finds a date. Fats wasn’t as flashy as some of his peers but he was a terrific piano player, performer, and singer.

This now rock classic was written by Vincent Rose, Al Lewis and Larry Stock for the 1940 Western The Singing Hill before they decided it was good enough to be released commercially. The song was used in the movie, where it was heard for the first time performed by Gene Autry.

Larry Stock (wrote the lyrics): “One important publisher turned down ‘Blueberry Hill,’ because, he claimed, blueberries don’t grow on hills. I assured him I had picked them on hills as a boy, but nothing doing. So Chappell And Company bought the song and another hit was born.” 

Ray Manzarek of The Doors has said that the baseline to “Light My Fire” was based on this song.

The band couldn’t get a full take of this song they were happy with, so the engineer, Bunny Robyn pieced together the final version from many fragmentary takes.

From Songfacts

Things are going well at the beginning of this song, as the singer has found his true love, enjoying a special moment on Blueberry Hill. It takes a sad turn though, when she leaves him:

Though we’re apart
You’re part of me still
For you were my thrill
On Blueberry Hill

Many artists recorded this before Domino, mostly orchestras. In 1940, it was a #2 US hit for Glenn Miller. That same year, Russ Morgan, Gene Krupa and Kay Kyser all recorded it with their orchestras. Louis Armstrong did the song with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra in 1949; this version was re-released in 1956, going to #29 in America. Other artists to cover the song include Elvis Presley (on his 1957 album Loving You), The Beach Boys, Andy Williams, Kiki, Cliff Richard, Bruce Cockburn.

Fats Domino, who knew the song through Louis Armstrong’s 1949 version, recorded this at Master Recorders in Los Angeles at a session in which he ran out of material to tape. Domino insisted on recording the song over the vehement objections of producer-arranger Dave Bartholomew, who felt the song been done too many times already. Domino came up with the definitive version though, featuring his famous piano triplets and sly Cajun accent.

Personnel on this track:

Dave Bartholomew – trumpet
Walter “Papoose” Nelson – guitar
Herb Hardesty – tenor sax
Lawrence Guyton – bass
Cornelius Coleman – drums

Domino Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin performed this song on December 10, 2010 at a charity event in front of an audience of international film and television celebrities. Videos of his performance quickly went viral worldwide. Putin’s spokesman said the former KGB chief learned the lyrics to the song as part of his English language studies.

Blueberry Hill

I found my thrill
On Blueberry Hill
On Blueberry Hill
When I found you

The moon stood still
On Blueberry Hill
And lingered until
My dream came true

The wind in the willow played
Love’s sweet melody
But all of those vows you made
Were never to be

Though we’re apart
You’re part of me still
For you were my thrill
On Blueberry Hill

The wind in the willow played
Love’s sweet melody
But all of those vows you made
Were never to be

Though we’re apart
You’re part of me still
For you were my thrill
On Blueberry Hill

Cheap Trick – Ain’t That A Shame

The song was written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew and Fats released it in 1955.

Fats Domino really liked Cheap Trick’s version of the song…reportedly it was his favorite cover version of his song. Domino gave Cheap Trick his gold record for his 1955 single, which is held by guitarist Rick Nielsen! That is really special.

The song peaked at #35 in the Billboard 100, #10 in Canada, and #24 in New Zealand in 1979. It was from the album Cheap Trick at Budokan in 1979. Dave at A Sound Day had a nice write up about the album…that is probably why I thought of this one. Another live version of song, recorded in 1999, was released on the 2001 album Silver.

I’m a huge Fats Domino fan…I first heard Fats on Happy Days as a kid. This song and Blueberry Hill are the first songs I remember by him.

This was the first song to crossover from the R&B charts to the mostly white pop charts of the day. Like several other songs previously heard exclusively in black bars or nightclubs, it was covered by the crooning Pat Boone.

Concerned about how people would respond to the title…Pat was going to change it to “Isn’t It A Shame” but the producers realized that would not exactly be the same.

Yea Pat Boone covered it…like he did other songs. I usually am not negative in my posts but no I don’t like Pat Boone’s renditions of those great rock and roll songs. Saying that…did it help the artists he covered? Yes it gave Domino and Little Richard’s songs a boost…it’s a shame (No pun intended) it took that to help Fats and Little Richard.

Pat Boone: “When I recorded their songs, my records of their songs sold 10 times that – and introduced them to the white audiences, or the pop audiences. So, they were grateful for my having recorded their songs. And of course, we became friends, as well.”

From Songfacts

This is a heartache song about a breakup that was the other partner’s fault. Domino wrote it with Dave Bartholomew, who worked on most of Domino’s hits.

Boone’s cover was a huge hit, going to #1 on the US Pop charts and reaching #7 in the UK. This gave Domino’s original recording a boost, and helped it cross over.

Like he did on “I’m Walking,” Domino made sure the beginning of this song was quite memorable, since if the hook comes right at the beginning, it’s more likely to be heard.

You may not know the lyrics, but you probably know how the song starts:

You made… (bomp bomp)
Me cry… (bomp bomp)
When you said… (bomp bomp)
Goodbye… (bomp bomp)
Ain’t that a shame

This was a favorite songwriting trick of Domino’s, as he looked for a good, simple section to start a song. And even though songs like this one were often attached to melancholy lyrics, it was the sound that Domino felt was important – if he could make it sound happy, it would evoke pleasant memories.

This was Fats Domino’s first hit song that was not recorded in New Orleans, where the singer lived. He recorded it on March 15, 1955 in a Hollywood studio when he was on tour in Los Angeles. Imperial Records had the engineers compress Fats’ vocals and speed up the song a bit to make the song sound less bluesy and give it more mainstream appeal. This also made it more difficult for other artists to cover the song.

In 1960, Domino recorded a sequel called “Walking To New Orleans,” where he leaves and goes back to his hometown.

This was used in the 1973 movie American Graffiti. It was also used in the movie October Sky.

Cheap Trick’s 1978 cover went to #35 in the US and helped make their At Budokan album a huge hit. A portion of the first guitar solo in their version, played by Rick Nielsen, is lifted from the opening harmonica riff from the Beatles’ “Please Please Me.” That same riff is also used in the guitar outro to the track “The House is Rockin’ (Domestic Problems)” from the band’s 1980 album Dream Police.
According to Nielsen, Cheap Trick got the idea to record the song after hearing John Lennon’s 1975 cover version. 

In 2007, this was used in commercials for Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. >>

This was the first song that John Lennon learned to play. Lennon later recorded the song in a duet with Yoko Ono, and his fellow Beatle Paul McCartney also recorded the song.

A sample of this song is used as a response to an alien invasion in Buchanan & Goodman’s 1956 hit, “The Flying Saucer.”

Jon Batiste and Gary Clark, Jr. performed this in tribute to Domino at the Grammy Awards in 2018 along with “Maybellene,” in honor of another rock legend who died in 2017, Chuck Berry.

Ain’t That A Shame

You made me cry
When you said goodbye

Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

You broke my heart
When you said we’ll part

Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

Oh well goodbye
Although I’ll cry

Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

You made me cry
When you said goodbye

Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

Oh well goodbye
Although I’ll cry

Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
Ain’t that a shame
You’re the one to blame

Fats – Domino – I’m Walking

I bought some records at a relative’s yard sale when I was really young. Chuck Berry album, Doors LA Woman, and this single. Excellent song with a beat that won’t leave you.

This song was inspired by a comment a fan made to Fats Domino after Domino’s car broke down: “Hey, look at Fats Domino, he’s walking!” Domino then thought to himself, “Yeah, I’m walking,” and wrote the song as he walked.

It peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100 and #19 in the UK in 1957.

 

From Songfacts

Running a tidy 2:05, this song is an example of what Domino strove for: “Happy songs the people could remember.” Anyone who has heard the song can likely repeat the first line, as it clearly sticks in your head: “I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’.”

The song is about a guy who is really lonely now that his girl has left him. He hopes she will return once she sees what it’s like without him.

It’s not a happy sentiment by any means, but the story is secondary in this song, which is driven by the rollicking melody. The title also has nothing to do with the rest of the lyric, but makes a convenient rhyme scheme, since he can also be “talkin’.” When Domino performed it, he often beamed a smile from his piano, unconcerned about the lyrical dissonance.

Domino wrote this song with Dave Bartholomew, a fellow New Orleans musician who did a lot of work arranging and composing songs for Fats.

This is the song that launched the music career of Ricky Nelson, who had 34 Top 40 hits in the US between 1957-1964. Nelson was starred with his real-life parents on the popular TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran 1952-1966 on ABC. According to Nelson’s biographer Philip Bashe, Ricky got the urge to record when he was 16 years old and on a date with a girl who told him how much she loved Elvis, prompting Ricky to tell her Elvis wasn’t that special and that he was going to make his own record. After a few years pestering his dad, Ricky convinced Ozzie – who was a popular band leader in the ’30s – to let him record this Fats Domino song, which contained the only two chords he knew how to play. It became a surprise hit, equaling Domino’s #4 chart placing after he performed it on the family TV series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

The Ricky Nelson version was released just a few months after Domino’s. The original reached #4 US in April 1957, and Nelson’s cover followed in that same chart position in June. It wasn’t the first time a white singer had quickly covered a Domino tune: In 1955, Pat Boone recorded “Ain’t That A Shame” soon after Domino released the song. Boone’s version went to #1, which Domino’s stalled at #10.

Domino recorded for Imperial Records, the label that signed Ricky Nelson after his cover of this song took off. Nelson’s version was released on the Verve label.

The saxophone solo on this song runs 33 seconds, taking up about a quarter of the song. It was played by Herbert Hardesty, who appears on several Fats Domino tracks, including “Ain’t That A Shame.”

Earl Palmer was the drummer on this track – he played on many New Orleans sessions for Domino and also Little Richard. The drum pattern requires some serious dexterity, confounding lesser stickmen who attempt it.

At baseball games, this is often played when a player for the home team draws a walk.

I’m Walkin’

I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me (yes)
I’m lonely as I can be, I’m waitin’ for your company
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me
What ‘ya gonna do when the well runs dry?
You’re gonna run away and hide
I’m gonna run right by your side, for you pretty baby I’ll even die
I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me

I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me (yes)
I’m lonely as I can be, I’m waitin’ for your company
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me
What ‘ya gonna do when the well runs dry?
You’re gonna sit right down and cry
What ‘ya gonna do when I say bye-bye?
All you’re gonna do is dry your eye
I’m walkin’, yes indeed, I’m talkin’ ’bout you and me
I’m hopin’ that you’ll come back to me