Ann Arbor Weather:
Monday July 22, 2019
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Steve Poltz

Steve Poltz

Wry story and song

by Jame

From the April, 2015 issue

Someone once wrote of the German poet Heinrich Heine that he delighted in blowing big sentimental soap bubbles and then deliberately pricking them. That's a good description of the songs of Steve Poltz, the Friday-night MC at the 2015 Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Poltz, whose boyish quality has survived his advance into his mid-fifties and a couple of small strokes, combines songs and wry storytelling in his act, and he was an ideal MC in that notoriously tough slot where people are usually whispering to one another about the act that just performed.

In the mid-1990s Poltz and Jewel, at the time both unknown coffeehouse singers in San Diego, became romantically involved and co-wrote a sweet love song called "You Were Meant for Me." The story of the song's origin involved a trip to Mexico, Jewel toting an AK-47 after the pair went with Mexican police on a drug raid at sea under the pretext that they were being invited to go whale watching, and marijuana spaghetti sauce being served to a cadre of Mormon youth. You can find the story online in three parts by searching for "Steve Poltz" and the song's title on YouTube--this is worth eighteen minutes of your time and is a fine example of Poltz's storytelling skills. Jewel recorded it on her first album, Poltz directed the video, and the single hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

They continue to perform together from time to time, but the two eventually went their separate ways, and Poltz developed his own considerably more idiosyncratic and intriguing solo career. He rejected input from the large Mercury label because of its artistic interference and formed his own firm, 98 Pounder, in the late 1990s when that wasn't such a common thing. He's written hundreds of consistently strong songs, mining his life for absurdities and turning them into pieces that tread the border between story and song in an unusual way.

So every Poltz show may be a

...continued below...

little different. The Folk Festival interludes were fine, but it's worth hearing him when he has the evening to himself and can give free rein to his imagination. He may play around with electronic instruments or turn serious and comment on current events. A staple of his concerts these days is a song called "I Want All My Friends to Be Happy," which moves masterfully between whimsy and the serious stuff of life:
I want all my friends to be healthy

And when they see kale and greens not just to scoff.

I want them to live long and prosper,

And to tell cancer just to go fuck off.
Steve Poltz comes to the Ark Friday, April 17.     (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2015.]


Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

A Canine Food Truck in Chelsea
The Brown Bassett goes mobile.
Shelley Daily
Welcome To The Ann Arbor Skatepark, by David Swain
Nightspots: Detroit St. Filling Station
Life After Sears
The store's closing is a chance to rethink Briarwood-and the whole State St. Corridor.
Denise Kearns
Quinn Evans Grows
Richard Hess says the news felt almost "too good to be true.
Patrick Dunn
Restaurants with Diapering Facilities
A clickable zoomable map
Today's Events
Social Services and Support Groups
Oshima Brothers
Sibling symbiosis
Sandor Slomovits
The Making of Palmer Commons
How a car desler's parking lot became a commuity meeting place.
Steve Daut
Semi e news
A visitor's guide to Ann Arbor