In 1945, young Cosimo Matassa decided he didn't want to be a chemist after all, and he dropped out of Tulane University.
What he did want to do instead was open a little recording studio in the back of his family's appliance and record store on North Rampart Street, J&M Music. There he began his decades-long practice of alchemy, taking musicians and singers from the streets of the Crescent City and turning them into pure gold.
Pure musical gold. True cultural riches.
With his microphones and recording machines, he captured the birth of rock 'n' roll out of all its component parts. He took the sounds of New Orleans and put them on tapes and acetates, and the wide world of music never was the same.
Especially for some lads from Liverpool.
THAT'S WHAT this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is all about -- how one man, with a little help from his friends, can change the world. Or at least its music.
Cosimo Matassa died on Thursday at age 88. In New Orleans, it was front-page news.
Everywhere else, it should have been. So this week on the Big Show, we're giving credit where it's so richly due.
Let me put it this way: Some of the records on this week's program are 78s I've been playing -- and loving -- since I was four. I could go on and on, but I think another New Orleans musical legend said it all when he talked to a Times-Picayune writer, so I'll just defer to one of my betters here.
"Cosimo was the doorway and window to the world for us musicians in New Orleans," Allen Toussaint said Thursday. "An expert, with a lot of heart and soul. When the Beatles heard Fats Domino, they heard him via Cosimo Matassa. He touched the whole world."Amen.
IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.