Steve Recommends: Living Life by K. McCarty

A friend of mine recently posted a song she’d written and performed on YouTube and when I watched and listened to it, I immediately thought of K. McCarty and her amazing Daniel Johnston tribute album, Dead Dog’s Eyeball. But more specifically, it conjured memories of my favorite song from that album, “Living Life,” which also happens to play during the ending credits for one of my all-time favorite films, Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise.”

The two songs, my friend’s and K. McCarty’s, both share an open-hearted simplicity, a raw, emotional honesty that is nearly impossible to find in music anymore. Of course, this song is the brainchild of Daniel Johnston, and I love his version too, but K. (Kathy), in my opinion, opened up and slowed down the song to expose it’s true, sad heart and added some dynamics that are missing from the original.

K’s tender, melodic vocals are front and center, highlighting the beauty of Johnston’s lyrics:

Hold me like a mother would
Like I always knew somebody should, yeah.
Alhough tomorrow it don’t look that good
Well, it just goes to show
Though people say we’re an unlikely couple
Doris day, and Mott the Hoople

It doesn’t hurt that the song is forever tied to the ending of “Before Sunrise,” (1995) in which two strangers meet, fall in love and decide to move on after 20 hours together. It’s bittersweet, and this song perfectly captures the excitement and self-doubt the two young protagonists are likely feeling as they drift back into their regular lives, wondering if they should have uprooted their lives and found a way to stay together.

Of course we know what happens next because this is the first film of the Before trilogy, with “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013) coming nine years after each other.

As someone who is just a couple years older than the characters in this trilogy, I feel I’ve aged and grown along with them in each sequel. Here’s to hoping we get another glimpse into the lives of Celine and Jesse in 2022.

Livin’ Livin’ Livin’ Livin’ Livin’ Life.

(Song recommendation by Steve Goldberg)

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