There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
STANDOUT TRACK: No. 12, “Last Fool Here,” a mournful country ballad that captures that bittersweet last-call mood. “I’ve been down on that floor,” sings the Silver Spring–based McDermott, 45. “I’ve been thrown out that door/Still, I’ll be the last fool here.”
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: “I wasn’t trying to make a CD—I was trying to make a record,” explains McDermott of the disc “Last Fool Here” closes. “It sorta has a Side A and a Side B. It’s not like a concept record, but I wanted people to know, This is it—it’s over. And it’s a song about the end of the night.”
A band spends hours “creating an atmosphere” in a club, McDermott says. “Then the atmosphere changes dramatically. They start sweeping up and putting up the chairs and turning on the lights.”
3/4 ON THE FLOOR: The song had been recorded several times since McDermott wrote it in 2001—but never successfully. “I had it as a straight, Ray Price–type shuffle,” he says. “I tried it as a rockabilly song. I tried it Blasters-style. It never worked.” Appropriately, inspiration struck around closing time: “I suddenly realized, at 3 o’clock in the morning, That song is a waltz!”
Even then, recordings with McDermott’s regular band came up short. So he hired a jazz trio for the album version—even though country music, he says, “throws jazz guys for a loop.” The result, McDermott notes with approval, is “tension in the piano part.” “He’s having to think through the whole song,” he says, “because it’s so simple.” —Dave Nuttycombe