Like many folks who were born in the '80s, I learned about the late Kitty Wells through Social Distortion.
Social D are punk rock's Bob Seger. They've never been the best at what they do, but they're consistent, honorable road dogs with more good tunes than you remember. They're often thought of as pioneers to the Orange County punk boom, but more so they're the last of the rockabilly bands, quick to dazzle you with three chords and a story in two and a half minutes. They'll convince you that rock and country are the same thing.
That influence is on singer/songwriter Mike Ness' tattoo sleeves, most famously in Social D's hit cover of "Ring of Fire" and his solo covers album, Under the Influence. Best of all though, is "Making Believe," the D's tears of a punk rip through Wells 1955 chart-topper. It's not the first song that you'd expect a bunch of bros to SoCal bros to cover--previous interpreters include Wanda Jackson, Connie Francis, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. But Social Distortion's cover is a reminder that these gals didn't make it big by offering an alternative to the outlaw country stylings of the Highwaymen, but by being just as iconoclastic as their Y-chromosomal peers.
"Thank you, Kitty Wells, for shakin’ up the boys club, and for all of your great music," Social D wrote on their web site this week. Thank you, Mike Ness, for enlightening me.