So here I am at the beginning of August and I didn’t have a summer anthem for this year. like I always do. This has been one of those half-assed traditions of mine that I’ve kept to myself for so long that it has ceased to be an amusing eccentricity and is now just a nervous tic. Eh. Keeps me off the meth. These songs of summer underscore the spirit of that particular year and serve as kind of a mental bookmark, a sense memory if you will. These tunes have run the gamut from Mungo Jerry to Loverboy to Nick Cave to Billy Joel to Kings of Leon right up to Katy Perry. What can I say? I have eclectic tastes.
This year it’s been a bit of a struggle.
I haven’t been able to embrace Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” like the rest of the free world apparently has if you’re to believe the playlist of every radio station on the dial. Talk about Hot Rotation. This thing hasn’t just been played to death. It’s become some sort of zombie siren. I don’t think it’s a bad song. It just feels manufactured for focus groups and demographics, an assembly line power ballad that comes off rather soulless. But hey, this is from a guy who just name-checked Loverboy.
However, there’s no reason Song of Summer 2011 has to be from this year. As the saying goes, if you haven’t heard it before, it’s new to you.
Recently I scored a copy of Moonshine Willy’s 1998 release of Bastard Child. If you’re not familiar with the Willy (at least this one), they were an alt-country band out of Chicago back in the Naughty Nineties. Don’t let the handle “alt-country” throw you, even though it does sound like some sort of too-hip-for-the-room musical category from those most ironic of times before Y2K. The Moonshiners combined elements like bluegrass, rockabilly and even a little folk with 1990s sensibilities into a well-balanced fusion that respected the old while embracing the new.
With full disclosure since I don’t want to sully my reputation as a blogger (we do have strong moral fiber, don’tcha know), I should note that my initial interest in anything by Moonshine Willy is due to the fact that the lead singer/songwriter is Kim Luke (formerly Docter as she’s credited on the album) Kim is a friend and former partner in crime at our days back at the Palace Showboat Theater at Pollardville. Kim appeared in a show I directed called Lights! Camera! Action! and also served as my choreographer on California Follies. Knowing her may have caused to purchase Bastard Child in the first place, but the quality of the music is what prompted me to write this piece. Besides it took me 13 years to finally hear this dang thing. I may be late to the party, but at least I showed up.
Bastard Child opens with the delightfully snarky ditty “Burn in Hell” and closes with a rollicking and hilariously countryfied cover of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”.
Sandwiched in between is probably the sweetest tune I’ve come across in a month of Sundays (which is what…7 months?). “Dig a Little Deeper” is such a lovely little love song about a couple not realizing that they’re on the same wavelength in their feelings for one another. It begs the question: “How long can one heart ache before two hearts break?” But Kim’s message in the chorus to these two is clear and concise:
Dig a little deeper
And find what brought you here
Dig a little deeper
And find out what holds you near
The love you sought for all your life is
Staring back at you
And all you have to do is
Dig a little deeper.
Dear Abby couldn’t have said it better herself. I choke up every single time I hear that last line. I particularly love that ever-so-brief hesitation she makes before she sings “Staring back at you”.
I’m crazy about this song and that’s why “Dig a Little Deeper’ is this year’s model for my Song of Summer. I found it on Amazon. So can you as well as the rest of Moonshine Willy’s catalog. This one tight-ass band playing in a genre I don’t normally embrace. I guess the sauce they put on their cornpone made it more palatable for me.
I’m really proud to have known so many talented folk intimately in my life. Kindred spirits that find each other in the world is really a blessing and helps us along the way down this freeway under construction known as Life. Therefore it gives great pleasure to trumpet the achievements of my friends, colleagues, peers and pals o’mine. It’s high time I gave Kim her due. Singer, actress, writer, Roller Derby Queen and so much more, Kim Luke really is a Renaissance Woman and I am privileged to have made her acquaintance.
Here ya go, kid. This one’s for you.