Deena Shoshkes has been busy during the pandemic releasing songs that reflect our shared experiences. This Jersey-based singer-songwriter expressed her outrage at President Trump in her catchy and poignant “Dear Leader,” written in 2017, shortly after his inauguration. The song expressed hope that Trump would provide responsible leadership, but as the pandemic has continued, she has been let down by his neglect and callousness.
Today, she released “Some Days,” which she describes as a “two-sided single featuring ‘Dance the Night Away’ (‘A side’) and ‘Thursday’ (‘B side’) …a nod to the old 45s.” You can listen to both songs, below.
The high-spirited releases, which were recorded and mastered by Scott Anthony at Storybook Sound in Maplewood, remind us of what we’ve lost during the pandemic — and what we have to look forward to.
For those of us who ache to dance in a sweaty, crowded bar or party, Shoshkes has captured the longing for those carefree, pre-pandemic nights out on the town in “Dance the Night Away.” This country-influenced pop-rock song will be useful to get a party going when we return to such fun.
Contributing vocals and rhythm guitar, she recorded it, as well as “Thursday,” with her favorite local bar band, The Poor Man’s Opera (guitarists Andy Riedel and Mark Moran, bassist Rick Wagner, drummer Dave Hartkern). Shoshkes sings with her usual contagious enthusiasm:
There’s a rock band playing at a tavern down the street
It’s a funky old place unchanged since the ‘70s
Folks getting down and dancing up a storm
When the band gets going it sure gets warm
All I wanna do is dance the night away.
The B-side “Thursday,” a danceable pop-rock tune, reminds us of the rhythm of when our structured work days used to be interrupted by the release of weekend fun. Now, Friday night closely resembles Tuesday night.
Promising a reward after trudging through the minutia of life, Shoshkes invites us to “make it to Thursday, that’ll get you through” and reminds us that “it’s somebody’s birthday/They’ve got a long road too/Just like you.” These are wise words to ponder as we enter another phase of the pandemic with isolation and continued worries about health and job insecurity this winter.
In addition to performing as a solo artist and as part of a duo with her husband Jon Fried — the two were co-founders of the ’80s Hoboken alternative-rock band, The Cucumbers — Shoshkes is a member of The Campfire Flies, where she creates stunning vocal harmonies with bandmates Fried, Matt Davis, Ed Seifert, and John and Toni Baumgartner.
Fried shot the entertaining video for “Dance the Night Away,” adding a wonderful and eclectic collage of dancers, including The Beatles, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Snoopy and Prince.
Shoshkes wrote the songs in 2016. “I just didn’t have the right band to help me bring them to life, right then,” she said. “I thought I should just ask my favorite local band (The Poor Man’s Opera), the guys I had in mind when I thought about dancing the night away, if they would play it with me. Sometimes in life, all you’ve got to do is ask. They said yes! I’m very shy, it was hard for me to get up the nerve, but I am so glad that I did.”
She referenced the irresistible rhythm of rock ‘n’ roll, which is celebrated in “Dance the Night Away.” “I miss the joy of sharing music and high spirits on the dance floor. It brings us together and makes you friends with strangers,” Shoshkes said. “We need to share good times with people we don’t know, or people we hardly know … and of course, with our friends.
“One feature of the pandemic is we are not meeting new people, or very few. When you go out dancing, you meet your friends’ friends and more. That’s something I really miss. It’s important to keep joy in your life.”
While we wait for the pandemic to recede, she suggests we “dance around at home” and promises that “when the time comes that we can be together again, we’ll have one great big party after the next.”
For more on Shoshkes, visit deenashoshkes.com. She asks that those who wish to show their appreciation donate to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (cfbnj.org) or Rent Party, the Maplewood-based organization that fights hunger in the local community (their Venmo is @Rent-Party).
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