Certain Songs #813: John Wesley Harding – “Nothing I’d Rather Do”

Album: Here Comes The Groom
Year: 1990

When your stage name is from a Bob Dylan album and you’ve snagged the crack rhythm section that powered Elvis Costello’s greatest records, then the pressure is on for you to deliver the songwriting goods to the nth degree.

And for the most part, as much as I really wanted to like John Wesley Harding’s well-reviewed 1990 album Here Comes The Groom, with one exception, it didn’t do all that much for me.

But oh, what an exception!!

With a beat that strutted down the street like a boss, a raucous horn line, call-and-response vocals and trusty warhorse chord changes, “Nothing I’d Rather Do” was worth the entire album.

Actually, just the third verse was worth price of the entire album.

Well, there’s trouble in your town
(Trouble in your townnnnnnnnnnn)
The wind blew in and your confidence drowned
(Trouble in your townnnnnnnnnnn)
Hasn’t been the same since you found
(There’s trouble in your town)
There’s trouble in your town

The way the backing vocals echo “trouble in your town” is love, it’s joy, it’s happiness, it’s just about anything but trouble, to tell you the truth, and it never fails to give me a huge shit-eating grin as I’m singing along with those backing vocals.

In the end, as Harding is repeating “nothing I’d nothing I’d nothing I’d” while the backing is slowly singing “there’s nothing I’d rather dooooooo,” Bruce Thomas unleashes a series of drum rolls, each one more improbable than the last, without ever losing the confident strut.

And while I never bought any of the follow-ups to Here Comes The Groom (including the one that just came out where he’s backed by The Jayhawks), or read any of his novels (published under his real name of Wesley Stace) I can’t imagine he’s put anything out that is more fun than “Nothing I’d Rather Do.”

“Nothing I’d Rather Do”

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