Rick Weiland, the former Hill staffer hoping to return to D.C. as the next Democrat to serve South Dakota in the Senate, has suddenly found himself thrust into the spotlight thanks to a trio of quirky campaign songs that have actually been a long time coming.
Weiland released his first political song parody, set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” earlier this spring.
“I just got the idea that this was perfect for the campaign,” Weiland said of the a-ha! moment he had while rolling around the Mount Rushmore State while listening to the Man in Black. So he did what he always does when inspiration strikes: He looped in David de Courcy, a pal dating back to their days working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who has become a trusted songwriting partner.
“We love the same music,” Weiland said of their penchant for folksy tunes.
Per Weiland, the duo would often break out their guitars and play together while traveling for FEMA. These days, they keep busy cranking out toe-tappers for Weiland’s Senate bid — though they hardly have to work alone.
Several generations of Weiland’s family have gotten in on the act, a group effort collectively known as “The Take It Back Band.”
There’s his older brother, Ted, who picks a mean banjo and can slap an upright bass. His daughters Taylor (oldest) and Alexandra contribute background vocals and occasionally strum the violin — as Alexandra did this past weekend during their run-through of the latest reworked ditty, “I Draw the Line” (another Cash knock-off).
His nephew, Justin, has been known to pound the skins from time to time. Another nephew, Chris, typically takes rhythm guitar duty. A friend from church sits in with the mandolin, when time permits. His eldest son, Nicholas, records it all for posterity and provides fresh perspectives — as he did by suggesting Weiland flip the script and call out the America Rising tracker seen following him around in the new “Big Wheel” video (a twist on Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel”).
“We get together over the holidays at my mom’s house and it usually develops into a jam session,” he said of the impromptu concerts that break out when the clan comes together.
Weiland loves having everyone chime in. And he knows it’s resonating with the voters.
“Every word in those songs has a meaning,” he said of the melodic outreach. “It’s a powerful way to deliver the message.”
The song parodies have been so effective, in fact, the campaign has thrown the three existing videos, “Big Wheel,” “Everywhere Man,” and “Bring on the Road” — a nod to Roger Miller’s, “King of the Road” — up as official spots on local TV.
But with the clock winding down to Election Day, it remains unclear if there’ll be time enough to record a polished version of “I Draw the Line.”
“I hope we get it done before the end of this campaign,” the sprinting-towards-the-finish-line bandleader told HOH.
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