We’ve made no attempt to hide our affection for Charlottesville Band of Brothers (and cousin and drummer) Sons of Bill, so it’s been a big month with the news that the five-piece would not only be putting out a 7″ for Record Store Day, but also visiting DC’s State Theatre on May 10 and NYC’s Webster Hall the following night. And let us note that this vinyl 45 – as they lovingly refer to it – does not go the route of unnecessary remixes or unearthed four-track demos or already familiar songs in a shiny new package: No, this boasts two brand new tracks, A-side “Bad Dancer” and B-side “Higher Than Mine”, and they’re both great. (We love you, Record Store Day, just saying.) Following on the heels of last year’s excellent LP, Sirens, the release continues an already formidable winning streak.
In the spirit of “Bad Dancer”, we asked frontman James Wilson to put together a list of dance songs for – and from the mouths – of bad dancers. Check out his list and introduction below, along with some words about the making of the song. Listen to it, and more of the band’s music, on the band’s website.
In middle school I remember hearing a friend of my dad’s tell his daughter on her way to a dance, “Remember, the best lovers are the bad dancers.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time, but the line stuck with me – most likely because I was as awkward as anyone else, feeling trapped on the outskirts, but madly in love with everything like everyone else. You see this same figure recurring in so many coming-of-age stories: Holden Caulfield, Quentin Compson, every John Cusack movie, etc. I’d been listening to a lot of older pop music at the time, and I got the idea to write them an anthem – a rock and roll love song for the awkward lovers. A dance song for the bad dancers.
As I get older I start to see the ways in which some people never really get over that awkward high-school dance feeling – it opens up into broader life questions of loneliness and wonder, desiring to belong but never quite feeling at home in your own skin. I picked these songs because I think they captured that feeling. Love songs and dance songs for slightly deranged people.
The Smiths: “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before”
I’m trying to make it through this mix without the Talking Heads, but I don’t think I can without Morrissey. So lets just start it off with him. Great crooner. Terrible dancer.
George Jones: “The Grand Tour”
This might be the best vocal take in country music. When he sings, “She left me, have mercy,” and drops into the 4 chord… Music just doesn’t get more beautiful or sad.
The Replacements: “Achin’ to Be”
Don’t Tell a Soul is often overlooked, but I still think “Achin’ to Be” is a classic Replacements track. Dancing kick-drum, straight quarter notes on the high-hat – “She’s aching to be / Just like me.” Bad dancer.
Beach Boys: “Do You Wanna Dance”
I couldn’t leave this one out.
Ray Price: “The Night Life”
Willie wrote this one, but there is something perfectly haunting about the Ray Price version. The Pedal steel is like nothing else.
The Cure: ” In Between Days”
“In Between Days” is still my favorite Cure song: The way all the little hooks stack together, the great guitar tone, the great hair. There is no larger gathering of terrible dancers dancing than a Cure concert. It’s good to see them on the Lollapalooza line up this year.
You’ve got to be incredible to explode internationally out of France. I count Phoenix and Air. Any others? Great band.
REM: “Supernatural Superserious”
I’m not a huge fan of later REM, but there is something about this song. Listen past the big muff guitar. Hear that Rickenbacker? It’s there. An anthem for the awkward cry-babies at summer camp? Had to include this one.
Stevie Wonder: “I Believe When I Fall in Love With You (It Will Be Forever)”
How everyone wants their movie to end. Still the best version.
Sons of Bill: “Bad Dancer”