Kim Mitchell's Shakin’ Like a Human Being (1986)


There are songs that have siblings. The most famous, maybe, are “Norwegian Wood” and “4th Time Around,” the latter a friendly little jab at Lennon for brocrushing so hard he thought it was okay to lean on Dylan’s sound. Those songs are linked, part of one another’s story. It’s a special, direct relationship.  

For most songs, sadly, they are at best the scattered, multitudinous children of fertile parents. Their progenitors – Chuck, Elvis, Aretha, Carole, Marvin – fucked our ears so deep and wide they made our brains pregnant. Their children wander the aisles of radio supermarkets with recessed chins and watery eyes, unattended because they’re so common and replaceable.    

So what about “Night Moves?” You might convince me that it’s a child of Springsteen’s “Jungleland” (unless I’m drunk), but does it have a sibling? It would have to be song about young love so sentimental, sleazy, incomprehensible, and icky that it is hard to listen to. It would have to be confusing.   

I present for consideration Kim Mitchell’s “Patio Lanterns,” which substitutes the atmospheric 70s murk of “Night Moves” for Top 40 story-song schtick, complete with an idiot-proof drumbreak and dipshit singalong chorus that goes great with a maple doughnut and Timmy’s triple triple. The basic idea of the song is that, as a kid, the narrator had the biggest patio with all the lemonade and summer shade, and also a bunch of patio lanterns. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s dangerously close to the first four lines of the song. And [initiate accent] you know, kids being kids and all, they were sure pretty nervous having girls and boys at the same party.

Here, just watch this:

The rest of the album is conventionally better, which means it’s not worth saying anything about.

Today, Kim Mitchell is a DJ for Toronto’s Q107 Rock Station, and he’s pretty good. When a listener emailed in, complaining that the music he played is shitty and “no one cares that you used to kind of know how to play the guitar,” Kim responded. He directed the listener to a website where listeners can request songs and maybe even win $1000 (that’s $756.97USD, if you’re keeping track). Then, he pulled out an acoustic guitar and sort of kind of played it on air, nothing flashy, white guy bluesy stuff, and concluded: “Dude, I’m a virtuoso, come on!”

Well, sure. At best, Kim Mitchell wrote Canada’s favorite song about culturally-misappropriated outdoor lighting. At worst, Kim Mitchell wrote Canada’s favorite song about culturally-misappropriated outdoor lighting. 

— Ghil Scraw

Phil Shaw