Little Feat is the best band you’ve never heard of from the 1970s. Though they had a couple hit songs in the late 80s, they’ve always remained a sleeper hit, a band that musicians talk about backstage before a show. I like listening to them in the summer—it’s hazy, sweaty music for the end of a hot day.
The group was the brainchild of Lowell George, a slide guitarist and expressive songwriter who had great touch and feel. Four or five different strains of American music met in his songwriting—country, blues, R&B—creating a greasy Southern fried soul. His ability to distill these different blends is what gave early Little Feat their sound, unclassifiable but distinctly American. Maybe the difficulty of classifying their music was what ultimately kept them from wider recognition.
“Long Distance Love” is one of George’s most sensitive pieces, a quiet, heartbroken lament from 1975’s The Last Record Album (great cover art by Neon Park). Although it’s a country song in spirit, the swirling Fender Rhodes piano and fuzzy slide guitar stick it closer to Dr. John or the Band at its funkiest. But what really drives the song home is George’s lyrics and delivery. Verses like “You know her toes they were so pretty/and her life so sweet/I wonder do she know/do she know she hurt me so,” have an understated precision to them, and his groaned delivery on the first line and the chorus articulate pain in a way that no lyrics can.