Roots Song of the Week: Emma-Lee, What Would Tom Petty Do?

untitledI was in the shower this morning…

Now that that involuntary shudder has subsided, let me continue. I was in the shower this morning, and out of Radio 2 came this terrific little slice of fandom, power pop, and breezy lyrical play.

Emma-Lee, a Toronto-based singer with whom I’ve only very passing familiarity (I have her first album…somewhere, and promise to make an attempt to locate it tonight) has released a joyously-obvious song intended, it is apparent, to attract the attention of her musician crush, Tom Petty.

She is unabashed in her intent, with her Maple Music page proclaiming:

Together, she says, the single and video are her best shot at attaining her ultimate goal of writing a song with the artist who has inspired her most.

“When it comes to my musical heroes it’s hard to choose just one who kinda sums it all up for me,” Emma-Lee says. “Some musicians I like for their voice, some for the way they play guitar, or the way they make me feel when I go to a concert. But when I think of songwriters, there is one person in particular who tops the list. That person is Tom Petty.”

I have great admiration for a fan who has the talent to be so ballsy.

The fact that the song- comprised almost entirely of Tom Petty lyrics- holds together and holds up is essential. Anyone can pen a love note to a performer they admire, and some darn good ones have been done: Nick Lowe’s Bay City Rollers We Love You,” (two different links, the first with Nick reminiscing, and yes, I realize NL wasn’t being genuine in his tartan-love), The Steel Town Project’s “Leather and Bass (The Night Suzi Quatro Rocked Out ‘Can the Can’)”, and “Guy Clark” from Eric Burton, a clip of which can be found here ; the best that comes to mind might be Rodney Crowell’s “I Walk the Line (Revisited.)” (Two different links, a live performance (without Johnny Cash) and a lyric video).

As the previous four example prove, it takes some doing- while I personally love each of these songs, others may not find them as appealing. One needs to balance the ‘Aw, geez- ain’t they great’  with sufficient nuggets of insight to appeal to other fans, while creating something that bears repeated listening. It is a little sub-genre I quite appreciate, and one day I’ll find the list I started five or seven years back and will start assembling a couple mix CDs of them. (Which will include Tom Russell’s “The Death of Jimmy Martin”, Peter Rowan’s “A Doc Watson Morning,” and Niall Toner’s “Master’s Resting Place.”)

Emma-Lee, and her co-writers, have created a punchy little calling card. It isn’t terribly rootsy, but it is catchy and a lot of fun. You can tell she has gone ‘all-in’ on this project, having a ‘cover’ for the song that looks distinctly familiar, and a video that is chock o’ block with Petty touchstones.

Check it out here on Emma-Lee’s video page.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald






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