#tbt: sunny lemon tina

We are throwing wa-hey back this Thursday, all the way back to Northstar and Sunny Lemon Tina.

It’s we, rather than me, ’cause i’m not doing much today. The man himself is throwing back Thursday for us. I’m gonna add a You Tube link and hit publish. Sam will take care of everything else.

If you reach the last page of the internet (aka page nine million and three of google search results), you’ll find a now-defunct Sam Roberts Band fan blog. Despite the heartbreaking amount of dead links (why must you hurt me so, internet? why!??!), the blog is an oldie and a goodie, and includes a few entries from SRB’s old myspace page – the stories of Northstar rarities from Sam himself.

obviously, because you’re here right now and we’re friends, you know northstar (formerly william) is the almost-srb before the srb, and included sam, jimmy, and eric. northstar broke up in 1999. they released one ep. this ep is crazy rare, collectible, and almost impossible to find. note i said ALMOST. that was a hint, ’cause there’s good things brewing at the bootleg saint these days. you should come back again, and we’ll talk more.

until then! take it away, sam . . .

The story of Sunny Lemon Tina is a tumultuous one, winding its way through the past twelve years, a song looking for both a home and an identity. In fact, I’ve never written a song that has had a tougher time establishing exactly what it wants to be. Even the ill-fated “Sweet Love” (see episode 3) was more assertive, despite its devastatingly soporific effect on the crowd. It was back in 1995… Ivan had been reading a “Toilet Seat Classics” book, based on commonly misheard song lyrics and suggested that “Sunny Lemon Tina” would become the Feminine Anti-Hero/Muse who would lead our band to great heights. But first, she needed a song, which seemed simple enough at the time. The words were the same as those you are listening to now, however, the melody, chords, everything else were different.

According to our friend Dave, this first incarnation, now forgotten, sounded like a band we were into, called The Boo Radleys. He liked it so much that he offered to manage our band. We agreed, although we were suspicious of Dave’s motives and therefore decided that we would completely change the song. If he stayed, despite the subversion, he must mean business. We kept the same words and set them to an entirely new tune. Dave stayed, but after a few months we decided the song had still not reached its fullest potential and scrapped it again.

And so on… over the course of the next few years, this process was applied to poor Tina more times than was decent. You might be asking “Why not just start a new song? Why not just leave Tina be?” “Valid imaginary questions,” I’d answer, “and ones to which I do not have a reasonable reply.” The North Star EP version (the one your hearing today), is the form which has had the most staying power, although we recorded versions for both the Brother Down LP and We Were Born In A Flame (didn’t make the cut).

In 2002, we opened almost every show with Sunny Lemon Tina on our first tour with the Tragically Hip and we still pull it out of the bag once in a while. In a way, Ivan’s prediction was right, she has been both a guide and a muse, her refusal to be defined a constant thorn in our side, but also a reason to keep looking for new ways. Talks are under way for another version. THE VERSION….

ladies and gentlemen, may i present to you . . . sunny lemon tina. enjoy!

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