After hearing 1996’s “Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)” two or three times at random times over the last week or so – on my iTunes/Spotify shuffle, on SiriusXM – I realized that, to me, it’s the last great Mellencamp tune. Yeah, I know he’s had some quality stuff since – darker, bluesier, rootsier… some of it produced by T-Bone Burnett. But I’ve always favored the melodic, folk/pop-oriented sounds of Mr. Mellencamp – from “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” to “Tumblin’ Down” to “Jackie Brown” and a host of others (can’t forget the quirky Casio sounds of “Jackie O“, which he co-wrote with John Prine).
“Key West” is found on the album ‘Mr Happy Go Lucky‘, John’s first album after his heart attack scare in August of 1994 (at the age of 42). He pulled out all the stops and brought in DJ/dance producer Junior Vasquez to produce the album. There’s still the folk/pop, but with the loops and funkier feel – especially on “Key West.” That’s soul-man extraordinaire Raphael Saadiq plucking the bass on the track too.
As for the video? Yep, that’s Matthew McConaughey (three years post-‘Dazed and Confused’). Outstanding tune. Wistful, pleading, horny, and funky. An ode to that pretty girl who’s just out of reach. The song hit #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 – John’s last Top 40 song (to date).