Heidecker & Wood’s 11 Favorite Yacht Rock Jams
Tim Heidecker of Tim And Eric and David Wood, a composer on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, just released a debut album, Starting From Nowhere under the moniker of (course) Heidecker & Wood. It’s a homage of sorts to ’70s soft rock that finds the guys creating Yacht Rock-inspired music that, outside the purposely ha-ha lyrics, goes beyond simple parody. Heidecker’s also given some interviews talking about how he’s a fan of the genre, so we asked him to come up with a list of his favorite Yacht Rock songs. Here goes:
Art Garfunkel – “Crying In My Sleep”
I really love the line about the sleeping pills and the thought about a man singing about crying into his pillow…
Steely Dan – “Peg”
Wow, this one has it all. This complicated jazz funk beginning, then settling into a fantastic sounding groove and a super catchy musical hook and sing a long chorus…
Joni Mitchell – “Coyote”
This song (and the album it appears on) features prominently the fretless bass which was a major influence on our record. Of course our fretless bass was played on a midi keyboard.
Starbuck – “Moonlight Feels Right”
A mutual friend of ours brought up this song on a recent tour, and I realized I’d nearly forgotten about it since I was a kid—amazing considering how huge it was for me when it was out. Just one of those ear candy songs—classic ’70s production describing an ideal time by the ocean. Or it might be about falling in love. I don’t think it matters.
Andrew Gold – “Lonely Boy”
Another favorite growing up. The drama surrounding this character seems to come out of nowhere. What made this guy’s life so lousy? A fit of sibling jealousy when he was 2? Love the song still, though—so well-performed and produced. It’s a blast to play on piano.
Michael Murphey – “Wildfire”
Beautiful chords, arrangement, and production with vivid lyrical imagery. Another one about a dead animal. Ok, it’s about a local legend inspiring a struggling farmer to escape his circumstances, even through death, but it’s written and produced well enough you almost miss the (fantastic) lyric “There’s a hoot-owl howlin’ outside my window now.” Kind of like Neil Young, polished up for radio (without his consent).
Bertie Higgins – “Key Largo”
The “Hawaiian Tropic” period of radio pop. Anything that evoked the Caribbean, or a vacation is a good addition. Steel drums, marimbas, tanning, tropical drinks, etc.—whatever comes to mind. But in this song’s case, it seems like they went cheap and had a piano player try and evoke that kind of part. The music video is kind of amazing to me. White suits, palm trees, and Bertie and his girl riding around some Gulf of Mexico inlet in what looks like one of those boats you can rent for an hour. A perfect day in Tarpon Springs.
England Dan and John Ford Coley – “Love Is The Answer”
Written for people who never had time to listen to The Beatles. Like one of those odd-shaped textbook supplements that fell to the bottom of your locker, mid-semester, and got stuck in the seam. This one is a good example of the kind of kitchen-sink approach I love about that period. Complete the recording, then have a soprano sax guy come in and play over everything. “Yes, even over the lead vocal improvs.” Frosting. Also a seminal example of what would become the “gratuitous gospel choir as a songwriting crutch.” Loved it then, and still do.
Jay Ferguson – “Thunder Island”
A great example of a ’70s song about chasing some girl around in a tropic paradise, but done in a refreshing 75% rockin’ way. Lush, almost Queen-style backing vocals over tasteful power chords. Very well-produced, and arranged. Jay recently made the theme for the American version of The Office (See also Shakedown Cruise.)
Neil Sedaka/Elton John – “Bad Blood”
I love this single just because of how it’s professionally made, but absolutely lyrically, and musically vacant, and just a painfully awkward pairing and execution that seems like some reasonably responsible person should have kept these guys away from each other. Plus, again, they hired some guy to jerk around on a flute over most of it, yet it ended up as a #1 hit. Very informative.
Captain And Tennille covering Willis Ramsey’s “Muskrat Love”
The song was enough of a throwaway cover for America, but Captain and Tennille would strive to successfully make it a top-ten single purely based on Captain’s synthesizer warblings, and Tennile’s good looks. Not at all a good song, but American radio and TV embraced it. And so did I, as a kid.
Now that you know what Tim’s listening to, and pulling from, here’s Starting From Nowhere‘s first and second singles “Wedding Song” and “Right or Wrong.”
Starting From Nowhere is now out via Little Record Company. H&W are playing a show Largo at the Coronet Theatre on 4/27. As they put it, “Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see the bastard children of some strange, implausible, and potentially acrobatic four-way between Darryl Hall, John Oates, Kenny Loggins, and Jim Messina.”
[Band photo by Pierre de Reeder]