Backstage in South Florida: The Anti-Valentine's Day List With Terry Radigan

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: a publicist's pitch gets my attention...

Being a writer and reviewer, I get all kinds of pitches from publicists and record label representatives, most of them clamoring for my attention in the hopes that I'll lend the proverbial ink to the artists they're hawking. 

It comes with the territory, I suppose. An inbox filled with desperate pleas for attention is the price I pay to also get the new music that fills my mailbox. (One reason why I'm hoping the post office doesn't eliminate Saturday service!) Still, given the limited number of hours in a day, or a week, or a month... or a year, for that matter, it's impossible to give more than a fraction of my attention to everything that comes to my door.

Consequently, it becomes a challenge for a publicist to convince a writer -- in this case, me -- that he should move a particular CD to the top of his listening stack and not only give it a listen but actually become enthused enough to write a review. I try to respond courteously and encouragingly, but given the volume of releases that I'm exposed to on an ongoing basis, it's clearly a challenge to get to them all. That's why I was particularly impressed by the P.R. pitch tossed my way by a publicist who represents singer Terry Radigan. 

Radigan isn't exactly a household name, although I happened to have enjoyed her earlier eponymous effort. Even so, she might have received only passing attention had she simply been left to her own devices. So, here's lesson one for all you budding P.R. types -- if you're trying to get attention, give the writer/reviewer something he can use. In this case, it happened to be fodder for my column, which was ideal for someone who's always anxious to find a topic that's both timely and transcendent.

Fortunately, Radigan is a worthy subject. Her songs have been recorded by such heavyweights as Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, and Trisha Yearwood. In addition, her music has been featured in films, TV, and even in an off-Broadway musical.

So what's the hook, you ask? It's easy, actually. Radigan's new album, The Breakdown of a Breakup, is being released on Valentine's Day, a somewhat ironic choice, considering its pessimistic posture. A song cycle about a romantic breakup, it encompasses the denial, the anger, the sadness, and the final phase of empowerment and then the difficult process of moving on. The album boasts an eclectic mix of melodies, all of which are underscored by her rich, riveting vocals; vibrant guitarcentric arrangements; and the augmentation of brass and strings. You can get a preview of it here.

Still unclear about what makes this such an intriguing connection? Considering the concept that ties these tunes together -- not to mention the tragic titles borne within ("Love Wouldn't Lie to Me," "Mistake"), this clever publicist suggested that an "Anti-Valentine's Day" playlist might be in order. She even offered some suggestions:

Alicia Keys - "Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart"
Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"
Adele - "Someone Like You"
Drake - "Marvin's Song"
Taylor Swift - "Dear John"
Swell Season - "Back Broke"
Tegan and Sarah - "Back in Your Head"
Foo Fighters - "I Should Have Known"
John Mayer - "Heartbreak Warfare"
Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
Ben Folds Five - "Song for the Dumped"
Rilo Kiley - "Breakin' Up"
Amy Winehouse - "Tears Dry on Their Own"
Band of Horses - "No One's Gonna Love You"
Death Cab for Cutie - "Someday You Will Be Loved"

Hey, great initiative -- I hope her boss recognizes that and gives her a raise. On the other hand, I can't just take her suggestions without offering a few of my own. So here's my Anti-Valentine's Day UNlucky 13 playlist:

Beatles - "I Should Have Known Better"

Neil Young - "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"

Bon Jovi - "You Give Love a Bad Name"

Bee Gees - "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"

Everly Brothers - "Bye Bye Love" 

Roy Orbison - "Love Hurts"

J Geils Band - "Love Stinks"

George Harrison - "So Sad"

Rolling Stones - "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)"

Elton John - "Love Lies Bleeding"

Buffalo Springfield - "Burned"

Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" 

Hank Williams St. - "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

Wow... I think I'm totally bummed out now. Fortunately, Radigan rocks.

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Lee Zimmerman