If you haven’t heard of Donnie Emerson, of Donnie & Joe Emerson fame, get ready for a heavy dose of ear candy. The smooth jams master who graced the cover of his 1979 debut album Dreamin’ Wild in a wing-collared white jumpsuit, complete with a sultry, smoldering gaze, has returned from the depths of my fantasy music world with a new single, “Searchin’,” released as a single through Burger Records. Staying true to his roots, Donnie’s new iteration as a band, nearly 40 years later, is now Donnie Emerson & Dreamin’ Wild, and here’s what he has to say about the track.
“I still remember late 1978, somewhere around August I think. We just finished up the harvesting in the fields. I called up my friend Steve who was a ragtime piano player to come over to the studio and see if we might gel together. Eldon my bass player came over as well with my brother Joe. I went in the control room with my guitar, which is my 1976 Gibson that I’m playing on the track with and a vocal mic. Steve’s on the Piano, Eldon on the Bass, my brother Joe on the Drums. I rolled tape, and it was a one taker. I always thought the lyrics were kind of cheesy, but that’s the way it went down, and so I left it alone for all these years. I still play this song with my band today, but more as a R&B version. I’ve decided to keep it this way because it reminds me of the old days. The feel on the drums that I’m playing represent my brother, I hope I did it justice Joe.”
Regarded as a straight classic cult record, Dreamin’ Wild contains the incredible song “Baby,” which grew in popularity after Ariel Pink covered the track in 2012. The album was reissued that same year by Seattle favorites Light In The Attic Records and pretty much blew everybody’s mind that hadn’t heard it before, including mine. And to think, the farm-raised rural Washington State brothers had 2,000 copies of the album originally pressed and, along with their mom, drove around in a ’68 El Camino and hand-peddled them.
Donnie did this great interview with The Guardian in 2014 after the release of Still Dreamin’ Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81, where he emphasized the power and beauty and purity of a simple, sometimes incomplete song. “It doesn’t have to be so perfect,” he said. “It’s just a vibe.” Clearly he still has that vibe going strong. So listen to “Searchin’,” if it’s the only thing you do today. We’ve got his vibe on repeat. –Maya Eslami