Songs Of The Day 2/2/2016: Milkwood – “The Light Won’t Burn” + “Lincoln Park”

Before They Were Famous II – Stumbling upon this ultra-humane folk-rock trio late last year was a toasty surprise that made me react in acceptable levels of giddiness. Milkwood was a band that came together when Midwest transplants Richard T. Otcasek and Benjamin Orzechowski relocated to Boston after the bright Buckeye lights of Columbus, Ohio failed to shine upon them. They formed Milkwood with guitarist Jas Goodkind, modeling themselves after the Formica-and-suede folk stylings of Crosby, Stills & Nash. They released one album, How's the Weather, in 1973 on the barely existent Paramount Records (whose other big signee was The Brady Bunch). That record went down the silky funnel of polite commercial rejection. But after spending time in a couple other Boston bands, Otcasek dropped a "t", Orzechowski dropped every last bit of his surname's Polishness, and they formed The Cars in 1977. The rest, as they say, is compromised humanity fighting to stay afloat in an increasingly mechanized society.

I may be a squishy pud, but I really like Milkwood. "The Light Won't Burn" reminds me favorably of Chris Bell's gentle acoustic work with Big Star. It features an earnest but modest lead vocal from Ocasek, who in the accompanying press photo looks like the most circumspect member of Three Dog Night. Orr, who passed away in 2000, gets a little looser in "Lincoln Park," buffeted by some sterling backup harmonies. I don't know which Lincoln Park he's talking about, though. I naturally first thought of the Chicago park and adjacent neighborhood, but I don't know how much time he spent in Chicago or if it was enough to make an impression. There's a Lincoln Park in Michigan (Ocasek and Orr also spent time in Ann Arbor), as well as a closed amusement park that used to be in Dartmouth, MA. Then there was the perpetually upset band Linkin Park, but they came much later and were spelled differently.

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