John King is a lover, not a fighter. Each February, we get to know just how much of a lover King is through a collection of songs released around the Hallmark-manufactured holiday called Valentine’s Day.
For the seventh consecutive year, Louisville is for Lovers shows you how versatile our city’s music can truly be, even if King goes through absolute hell trying to put it out.
“I can’t lie when I say it is the single most painful thing I have to do,” said King, 29.
To demonstrate this, he crunches the numbers.
“This year and last year I got 60 songs, which means 45 bands or artists don’t get to be on it, and that is a lot,” he said.
It’s a reality that leaves him with explaining to do, after he listens to every song three times.
“I hate that I have to tell bands they can’t be on it,” he said. “I try my best to explain that they should definitely try again next year.”
So why keep doing it? Even he has to wonder. “Some years I really ask myself that. Some years I think it’s the last time; sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I’ve accomplished in the year. It’s definitely kept me in town.”
Part of what brings L4L to fruition is King’s self-imposed duty to document local music.
“It’s a fingerprint of what’s happening in the city at the time,” he said. “I really feel like there’s got to be someone to do something like this. As long as I still have some idea of what’s happening locally, I can still do it.”
What excites him every year about L4L is that the music keeps changing to reflect either the current political and socioeconomic climate or musicians’ personal tastes. That, and writing about the universal subject of love has elicited compelling songwriting since time immemorial.
“This year, I think a lot of the songs are bleak,” King said, whereas Vol. 2, for example, was more electronic. “Some years are heavier than others. Even the bands that are on it a few years in a row change their sound.”
This year’s comp features songs by Sapat, Phantom Family Halo, Jamie Barnes and One Small Step, as well as newcomers Chemic and Gods of the Atmosphere, a duo project consisting of Follow the Train singer-guitarist Dennis Sheridan and D.W. Box and One Long Song.
As for a favorite, King demurs. “You can’t ask a mother which child is her favorite.”
The limited-edition (500 copies) CDs are $9.99 and are available at ear X-tacy, where there’s an in-store performance planned at 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. The compilation is also available at Cherry Bomb, Old Louisville Coffeehouse and myspace.com/louisvilleisforlovers.
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