This may be one of the handful of songs I’m ultimately remembered for, at least among a small coterie of listeners + people from Libertyville who are surprised to find there’s a song about their town, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s one of the first things I wrote with the idea of “The Viper” in place, and with an Orchestra in mind.
Libertyville is a northern suburb of Chicago. I moved there from Rhode Island in, I think 1981, somewhere in the middle of 7th grade. Highland Middle School rules! The bar on Buckley referenced in verse 1 was a part of the Hitchin’ Post complex at the intersection of Rte. 21 (Milwaukee Ave) and 137 (Buckley Rd). Don’t look for it – it’s not there anymore – but in 1991 there really were $1.25 pints and an entertainer who went by the name of “Oscar Wild” and performed with a karaoke machine doing Elvis songs like the “Steamroller Blues” (comp. by James Taylor). Sometimes, his brother also performed, using the nom d’etage of Master Vic.
For an aural reference track, I’m including a live recording of The Viper & His Famous Orchestra doing it, in what the track details say was May 1, 2001, which would mean the year after I moved to Turkey? It’s not the highest sound quality of all the live or studio recordings of it that we have, but it’s pretty spirited, and it has the virtue of being rare, esp. in the sense that I’m not quite sure where or what it’s from. It’s in a folder on my computer called Live with the GEO that has many recordings from many different dates. If you have any information on it, let me know. It’s shiny!
For a look, this video presents a good rehearsal take, from The Viper & His Famous Orchestra working it out on 52nd Street in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee in a very Christmas-y December of 2014. Kicks may keep getting harder to find, but not here! The line-up is: The Viper: vocal, ukulele; Riley Broach, bass: Rob Henn, trombone; Edward Burch, suitcase; John Peacock, toy piano; Loup the Dog, couch.