Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The flooding back of nostalgia that happens when you return to the college campus that so expensively bestowed upon you a bachelor's degree in whatever is not nearly as heavy as the odd sense that you're so much older now. Force yourself to do this one thing if you make such a trip: Stay up later than you allow yourself to any longer, hours past midnight that you don't normally see anymore and then hit the pedestrian mall lined with all of the local watering holes that you used to haunt shit-faced, trolling for girls or looking to line up a new boy toy. Now, do a mental count of how many of those tipsy and belligerent young folks you'd either trade places with or are jealous of and you're likely to come back with very low numbers and a greater sense of self-worth, beaming that you're not anything at all like that anymore - bumbling through the process of ordering a couple tacos or putting out personal fires when people get unnecessarily hot under the collar over innocent flirtation. A good number of people have these revelations while they're still enrolled and just pining to see some significant improvement in their social life, particularly with those of the opposite sex. These are the years when the grievances that most nerdy and nebbish young men have with cute girls, blind to their inner qualities, flare up even hotter because the general belief is that those girls should be wizening up by now. The hunky guys that they're seeing and crawling all over are the ones who will leave them as divorcees and with a clan of kids to raise on their own, sadly and unfairly. The girls remain mesmerized and dim, sticking with the meat they stuck. The guys remain dull and aggressive, blatantly oafish and brash. It's the kind of hormonal circus that Oxford, Mississippi's Dent May plays around with, massaging it into a dynamic world of feebly working relationships between high school sweethearts and the outsiders looking in, romanticizing the idea that they really aren't chumps after all. They're still not all that lucky in love, but they're by no means the heels that they've long been seemingly cursed as. May, he of the moppish hair like a good ol' Southern boy mod should have, the ember-colored, thick as mayonnaise jar bottom glasses and Neil Hamburger leisure suit quality, has an immense amount of fun and numbers of giggles when it comes to the washed up before they ever got any momentum business majors and potheads, resigned to a life of endless college courses, grad school as their only redeeming value and bottomless days of stupor and Groundhog's Day like residuals. He writes and sings about the girls out of his league who have finally come around, woken up and realized that there was a prince charming - filled to the brim with chardonnay and sweet words - inside that frog suit. And if they haven't gotten there yet, they're warming up to this guy with the Jonathan Richman sentimentality and a keen eye for spotting all of the senseless bullshit that so many people just put up with as if they had no choice. Already as a young man, May - with his ukulele and the kind of ear for the crooner melody that could get bras thrown onto a stage - has latched onto his own appreciation for the limits of good sense as they apply to girls and their flings with men. He realizes that they're mostly ignorant flashes of foolishness manning the hot buttons and that's where the intelligence gleaned gets glued tight to the laughability of all the various situations that people find themselves in. Romance and the happy ever after scenario, the things that May promotes endlessly on his brilliant debut, are sticky and never clean, but they're tangible and can be held if the right combination wins out. Through his vast understanding of the perils of love's lives and the difficulties that romance only serves to enhance, May has made a world of optimism and touching cheekiness, semi-blustery confidence in his own romantic worth that is poignant and spectacularly witty. There's an slight undercurrent that those good guys, the meek believers, will win out in the end, led by May on a steed, viewing the carnage along the roadside, of all the sweethearts who've crumbled, and writing about them both mockingly and with plenty of disappointment, but he's not going to say he told them so.
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele MySpace
Paw Tracks Records