Sunday, August 24, 2008

Donnie Iris's "Ah! Leah!"

On the way home from hiking on Friday, I heard a song on the radio that I've long admired, but whose title (along with the artist who recorded it) I'd never been able to ascertain. I knew that it must have come out while I was a missionary in Chile, although I don't remember hearing it until after I came back to the U.S. After the song ended, the DJ came on and said the name of the artist: "Donnie Iris." I went home and immediately went on iTunes and searched on "donnie iris"; the first tune on the list was "Ah! Leah!" and, sure enough, it was the song I'd just heard on the radio. I quickly downloaded it to my iTunes, then went (a) to Wikipedia to read the bio on the artist, and (b) to Youtube to watch the music video for the tune. I found it strangely appropriate that Donnie, the singer, was a thin, curly-headed guy with horn-rimmed glasses and bad teeth, which also explains why his band didn't become a huge act in the coming Age of MTV, with its emphasis on pretty-boy looks and big hair. (Donnie, it turns out, had already played in The Jaggerz ["The Rapper"] and Wild Cherry [post-"Play that Funky Music"] at the time he recorded "Ah! Leah!")

In one sense, "Ah! Leah!" came out about five years too late -- I'm almost certain it would have been a #1 hit in the mid-70s (instead of topping out at #29 in 1980-81) -- but there's something timeless about a hard-rocking song about forbidden-but-irresistible love. I'm not sure where it would fall on my list of all-time favorite rock songs, but it would definitely be in the top five.