100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #101 Lone Justice – Ways To Be Wicked

Released : 1985

I was a little in love with Lone Justice singer Maria McKee in 1985. It was a sort of hopeless, pictures-cut-from-magazines type of love and being honest, it probably wouldn’t have survived her wilder bohemian years, the decades in which she rejected fame on other people’s terms. But love it still was.

A half sister to Bryan Maclean of Love, McKee formed Lone Justice at 18, the band’s reputation rapidly snowballing to the extent that they would open for both Bob Dylan and U2,  with the singer garnering praise from Dolly Parton. Having also written Feargal Sharkey’s British mega hit A Good Heart, the pathway to stardom was clearly marked, but the temperamental product of a nonconformist upbringing would eventually set herself on a much different personal course, one which she confessed later probably saved her life.

Ways To Be Wicked was co-written by Tom Petty – a Heartbreakers version has subsequently emerged – but it was the tune that McKee seemed born to sing, a rootsy honky-tonk that bottled the essences of Memphis, Philadelphia and New Orleans and framed her Church eaves rattling holler to perfection. How could such a noise come from somebody yet to be so careworn? No-one seemed to have the answer, but just like the perennial sucker in the song, I wasn’t asking any questions because just like everybody else on this rock, for me love was blind.

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