A Toots & the Maytals tale

Now and then, it’s nice for a change of pace. This includes journalism-related activities.

And so, in the spring of 2004, in Flagstaff, Arizona, I lined up an interview with iconic reggae singer Toots Hibbert. The freelance magazine assignment took place during a Toots & the Maytals concert (I scribbled down notes during the show) and afterward (about a 20- or 30-minute interview in his dressing room back stage after the show).

The interview touched upon a lot of topics: decades of performing, musical influences, friendship with Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, role as a pioneer in Jamaican music, the relationship with the audience.

We covered a lot of material in a short period of time.

I didn’t have to lie and pretend I enjoyed the show. It was lively, quality music, a spirited crowd, a legendary performer still at the top of his profession at age 61.

I told him that for many years I especially enjoyed an album he recorded in Memphis, “Toots In Memphis.” I mentioned one of his songs was a real favorite, “Beautiful Woman,” with an unforgettable line: Beautiful woman will drive you crazy.”

He smiled and said, “You should have cried out for it, man!”

He was right.

Sure, I was at the concert as a journalist, but I could’ve did double duty as a fan. That song, which wasn’t performed would’ve been a hit at cozy Orpheum Theater, too.

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