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Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats 


Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. It was the second time I’d heard the song, but the first time I didn’t look up who it was. I was on my way to get a haircut in my rental car, so I was listening to the old fashioned radio instead of satellite. It was a local alt rock station, which to some is still just corporate rock, but I’m almost fifty years old, so it’s often all new to me.

At first listen, it seemed like a strange style of song to be on this station. Kind of bluegrass, a little country. Even for a station that plays bands like Mumford and Sons. It definitely had a throwback sound, and I was digging it.

The refrain went:

Son of a bitch, 

give me a drink

One more night escaping me

Son of a bitch

If I can’t get clean 

I’m gonna drink my life away

It was a beautiful mix of rock and roll, the original kind, not the crap we have now, Southern gospel, and roots rock. It felt Southern and also maybe like something you’d hear in New Orleans.

It was the kind of song that makes you want to drink and dance, at the same time. And it was also a little angry. Like an old-timey preacher who was dressing down his congregation.

I could feel them doing it with a choir. If the choir had a horn section.

Now for seventeen years I’ve been throwing them back

Seventeen more will bury me

Can somebody please just tie me down

Or somebody give me a goddamn drink

My heart was breaking, hands are shaking

Bugs are crawling all over me

My heart was aching, hands are shaking

Bugs are crawling all over me

Son of a bitch, 

give me a drink

One more night

This can’t be me

Son of a bitch

If I can’t get clean I’m gonna drink my life away

Yeah ah

Now that’s a song.

For the record, the entire album is pretty banging. Definitely worth picking up. You’ll find yourself  humming along.

The track I Need Never Get Old, feels like something from Wilson Picket done by Tom Jones. I couldn’t tell if Howling at Nothing was an original song, or something I’ve known my whole life. Classic rhythm and blues.

You’ll be surprised there’s only one black guy in the band, and he plays trumpet.

These boys got soul.

About the author

David Todd McCarty

David Todd McCarty is a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer. He writes fiction and nonfiction essays as well as journalism. You can see his commercial work at http://www.hoppingfrogstudios.com

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