Acclaimed singer/songwriter Mike Younger has just released a new single just right for these carnivalesque political times, “Lord of the Fleas.” And while the lyrics for this tune were just penned to reflect today’s tumultuous climate, its rhythm track, an all-star powered slice of pure Americana, is a remarkable story of its own, one dating back 20 years, and featuring none other than Levon Helm.
In January 2001, Younger was working with producer Jim Dickinson (Big Star, The Replacements) on sessions for what was to be his second album, the follow-up to his Rodney Crowell-produced 1999 debut, “Somethin in the Air.” Dickinson conjured a powerhouse band including Muscle Shoals’ legends David Hood (bass) and Spooner Oldham (keyboards), North Mississippi All Stars’ Luther Dickinson (guitar) and Levon Helm, the heartbeat behind The Band (drums). Unfortunately for Younger, his record company folded while he was finishing the recording, and the rights to the tracks were tied up in a legal battle… until now.
“Lord of the Fleas” features a stately New Orleans style swing and funeral march horns, accenting Younger’s pungent lyrics about the culture wars, the war on refugees and so much more. Sounding much like a track one of the The Band’s classic era albums, Mike Younger has found memories of the session, and the contributions Levon Helm gave to them in sound and spirit.
“Working in the studio with Levon was one of the most important musical moments of my life,” says Younger. “I had been listening to his music since I was about 13 or 14. It was both thrilling and intimidating to me to get to work with someone I admired so much. But it was a real joy to strike up a friendship with him.”
“It was equally crushing to have the music swept away from me for almost 20 years, for reasons beyond my control,” laments Younger. “So it is immeasurably gratifying to have found and completed the project we started together, in spite of all the years and obstacles thrown in my path.”
The promotional video for new single emerges as an American news reel – illuminating the great contradiction of the modern patriot. “Lord of the Fleas” is the first single and video to be released from Nashville-based Younger’s highly-anticipated long-player, entitled “Burning the Bigtop Down,” slated for release in 2021.