Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
You can't help but feel that the people that are singing in Mornin' Old Sport songs, as well as the people they're singing too, might not be around any longer. They seem like people who are gone from here, outdated gents and gentle ladies. They are people who might be ghosts, long gone and remembered with fond fingertips running over photographs in memory books. They are the kinds of people who were remembered for their benders, for their unflappable work ethics, for the way they were never around all that much when their kids were growing up, for their sense of humors, for ultimately being pretty okay people, who really did mean well, but were just worthless when it came to execution. They are the kinds of people who were mostly chivalrous until the whiskey or beer started to kick in and the cheeks took a turn for the rosy and they got all hot around the collar about one thing or another, before eventually passing out and waking up to a lot of explaining to take care of.
The Mornin' Old Sport lads are into these stories of mostly boorish and sinful behavior that tend to iron themselves out, or were seen as more light-hearted when they would happen way back when, back when the daddies didn't change diapers or cook meals that didn't involve drinking around a grill. We're introduced to what appear to be sweet-hearted ladies named Clementine and Katie and they've stuck themselves with men who need a bunch of fixing, but they're game. They're going to see what they can do and the men, well, they're just going to try their damnedest to stay out of the doghouse and to detach themselves from their mama's apron strings before they turn 40.
The Oakland-based group allows all of these tales to ring with a sense of joviality, as if all the people involved - the drunks, the ne'er do wells, the lovers and the attempters - as if they were all meant to splash around together in a playful mash. They approach subjects like infidelity and mortality with a feeling that there's a lot of good that can happen between these episodes and, even at the end, when all of the hands have been laid out onto the table, there's still a question as to who's won and who's lost. They sing, "When I heave my final sigh/Please place two coins on my eyes/Let me pass into the night," only there's still no certainty about the direction that the soul will take - either down the white track or the black one. Either way, they got what they deserved and that's enough of a thought to just let it all go.