Every so often, I hear a song that is so good I want to die.
Generally that feeling is for one or both of the following reasons: A. It’s a song that I wish I would’ve or could’ve been able to write myself, or B. It’s a song that holds qualities that somehow appeal to every part of me as a music fan.
When I hear a song that falls under either of those two categories, I feel like a 10-year-old kid who just finished both sides of a box of Nerds in under two minutes: rabid, sugar high and experiencing a feeling like death is coming soon.
Thankfully, feelings like these don’t come often. Rarely does a new song affect me in ways that I can’t sit still. When I started listening to the music that currently fills my iPod a couple years ago, songs like that would hit me at such a dizzying pace that I always had big expectations for what I was hearing next.
Eventually, that brief time period ended and everything that came afterwards would be held to the same bar as the incredible songs I heard before. This leads me to “Miss K.”
Since last year, I haven’t listened to Deer Tick at all. I was somewhat a fan after seeing them open for Dr. Dog, and based solely on that performance, decided it would be in my best interest to interview their front man, John McCauley, for The Temple News.
The “interview” lasted roughly six awkward minutes before it was mercifully put down. In the following weeks I would blame it on McCauley’s unresponsiveness and the fact that my phone reception was terrible, but eventually I had to admit to myself that it was because I was (and still am) a terrible interviewer.
After that tragic episode, I swore off Deer Tick, even though their blend of Replacements-meets-Buddy-Holly swagger is located directly up my alley. And then there was “Miss K.”
I’m still not entirely sure how I came upon “Miss K.” It probably came up on one of the dumb music sites I make a point to check daily.
As Deer Tick’s first single from their upcoming album, it’s getting the requisite amount of press that a band of their growing stature can attain. I listened to it once and was not struck by anything. I listened to it a second time and picked up on some nuances I missed the first time.
Forty listens later and it had manifested itself from an unassuming folk-rock number into a numbing pack of folk-rock leeches, latching onto my brain and promising to never release their hold.
The song itself is a beauty of simplicity, mostly based on a strummed G chord. Lyrically, it falls under the “you could be so much happier if you were with me” umbrella of love songs. What does it for me is its lyrical melody.
It’s assisted by a keyboard line that is indescribable in print and the melody is perfect. It’s perfect because it’s that rare type of melody that sounds like it’s been done a million, trillion times in the past, but hasn’t. It’s catchy without having to pander to a specific kind of catchiness. It sounds universal, like it could’ve been something couples danced to at Sadie Hawkins dances in the ‘60s, even though it came out a couple weeks ago.
That, along with the aforementioned G-chord strumming and direct snare drum hit to keep the song in time combine to make something rare. This isn’t a song to sit and thoughtfully ponder. It makes me want to dance in my kitchen with someone I love. It makes me want to record a terrible cover version, put it on YouTube, and hope that someone searching for the original accidentally clicks on mine and enjoys themselves. Its cliché, but it makes me feel like I’m living.
The great thing about loving a song unconditionally is that if you love it enough, no one can tell you anything about it that will make you dislike it. It doesn’t matter if its Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock” or whatever dumb buzz band’s song is trending on The Hype Machine this very instant, that kind of appreciation and adoration for a song is entirely infallible.
That’s why I try to approach every song I hear with that attitude, that it could literally be the greatest song I will ever hear in my entire life. Of course, that thinking lets me down more times than not, but the negative is entirely outweighed by the positive when universes collide and a song is just that great.
And to me, that’s “Miss K.” Now where’s my guitar?
Kevin Stairiker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.