Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
Mike Viola is the kind of songwriter that other songwriters probably despise. He undoubtedly has an easy time of it. He likely has all kinds of stories of inspiration hitting and him sitting at a piano or messing around on a guitar for 10 minutes, after which he could show off a song that any of them would have killed to have written. The Los Angeles musician, who co-wrote the title track to Tom Hanks' rock and roll movie "That Thing You Do!" as well years many songs as the underrated Candy Butchers, has an exceptional grip on the language and the economy of a pop song. He can get in there and tell a three-minute story about some episode of puppy love, an idyllic day or the dedicated attraction and passion of a long-married couple, like it's nobody's business. He can go from the seed of an idea to a fully-realized nugget of a song faster than most could take a morning piss. Or, at least, this is what we assume to be true.
Today, around here, was the perfect day for a Mike Viola song to play. We're still one day away from winter being over, but here we are on a run of seven or eight days in-a-row of record high temperatures. It's 80 degrees on the last day of winter and suddenly the green in the grass has popped to life. Suddenly the golf course down the street looks like something you'd like to walk around on. It was one of the first days of the year where you didn't even consider taking a coat with you. It couldn't have been more unnecessary. It was/is the kind of day that made me want for a window in the roof of my car - anything to let more sun directly in, more of the hard to believe warmth into the car. I could have ridden around all day listening to Viola playing "Soundtrack Of My Summer." It could have just been on repeat, with him singing, "I will hear your voice in three-part harmony/When I'm alone, driving in my car," thereby making it easy to almost believe I was willing the voice coming out of the speakers, part of the reason that the day was so nice.