365 Days, 365 Files: Camper Van Beethoven – Sweethearts

There was a lot of bad press when Camper Van Beethoven released Key Lime Pie back in 1989. So much so, the band flaunted those reviews on an early design of its web site in the early part of this decade.

Back then, I couldn’t really tell. Key Lime Pie was the first — and for a long time, only — album of Camper Van Beethoven I listened to. For an 18-year-old kid fed a steady diet of corporate media for most of his life, Key Lime Pie was a refreshing taste. I wasn’t burdened with the history of the band’s oeuvre to pass judgment on the album’s merits.

For all I knew, this album was the most brilliant thing they’d written. It was certainly an album I loved listening to again and again. Still do.

"Sweethearts" is the first country song I ever liked. And no, you may not tell me the twangy guitar on this song is not country. In Hawaiʻi, it’s a cultural requirement to despise country music categorically. There is no shade of difference between Lucinda Williams and Faith Hill.

"Sweethearts", however, was my first introduction to what would eventually be called "alt-country" — country music far enough outside the mainstream to encompass punk rockers and old timers. In fact, the track predates Uncle Tupleo’s No Depression by a year.

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