Right Place, Wrong Time ~ Dr. John

Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr., better known by the stage name Dr. John (also Dr. John Creaux), is an American singer/songwriter, pianist and guitarist, whose music combines blues, pop, jazz as well as Zydeco, boogie woogie and rock and roll.

Active as a session musician since the late 1950s, he came to wider prominence in the early 1970s with a wildly theatrical stage show inspired by medicine shows, Mardi Gras costumes and voodoo ceremonies. Rebennack has recorded over 20 albums and in 1973 scored a top-20 hit with the jaunty funk-flavored “Right Place, Wrong Time,” still perhaps his best-known song.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, his professional musical career began there in the 1950s. He originally concentrated on guitar and he gigged with local bands including Mac Rebennack and the Skyliners, (Paul Staele/Dennis “Bootsie” Cuquet, drums; Earl Stanley, bass; Charlie Miller, trumpet; Charlie Maduell, sax; Roland “Stone” LeBlanc, vocals), Frankie Ford and the Thunderbirds, and Jerry Byrne and the Loafers. He had a regional hit with a Bo Diddley-influenced instrumental called “Storm Warning” on Rex Records in 1959. During these days he was an A&R man producing, with Charlie Miller, monophonic singles on 45s for Johnny Vincent and Joe Corona for such local labels as ACE, RON, RIC and others. For these sessions he oversaw A&R and the rhythm section while Miller wrote the horn arrangements and headed up the horns. It was a productive team until Miller decided to move to New York and to study music formally.

Rebennack’s career as a guitarist came to an end when his left ring finger was injured by a gunshot while he was defending singer/keyboardist Ronnie Barron, his bandmate, Jesuit High School classmate, and longtime friend. After the injury, Rebennack concentrated on bass guitar before making piano his main instrument; pianist Professor Longhair was an important influence on Rebennack’s piano stylings.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1963 where he became a “first call” session musician on the booming Los Angeles studio scene in the 1960s and 1970s, providing backing for Sonny & Cher (and some of the incidental music for Cher’s first film, Chastity), and for Canned Heat on their albums Living the Blues (1968) and Future Blues (1970), and many other acts.

Right Place, Wrong Time

According to Dr. John, the basis of the song dealt with having his finger shot off, but many of the lines came from other artists as suggestions.

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/dr-john-right-place-wrong-time.flv[/flv]

I been in the Right Place
But it must have been the wrong time
I would have said the right thing
But must have used the wrong line
I’m on the right trip
but I must have used the wrong car
My head’s in a bad place
I’m wondering what it’s good for

I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong time
My head was in a place
But I’m having such a good time
I’ve been running trying to get hung up in my mind
Got to give myself a little talking to this time.

Just need a little brain salad surgery
Got to cure this insecurity
I’ve been in the wrong place
But it must have been the right time
I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong song
I’ve been in the right vein
But it seems to be the wrong arm
I’ve been in the right world
But it just seems wrong (wrong x4)

Slipping, Dodging, Sneaking, Creeping
Hiding down the street
See my life shaking with everyone who I meet
Re-fried confusion is making itself clear
Wonder which way I go to get on out of here

I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong time
I’d have said the right thing
But I must have used the wrong line
I’d have took a right road
But I must have took a wrong turn
Would have made the right move
But I made it at the wrong time
I’ve been on the right road
But I must have used the wrong car
My head was in a good place
And I wonder what it’s bad for

  • Audio from the 1973 album, In the Right Place:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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