George Guthrie’s buoyant banjo picking opens The Wooks’ new single—from their album Flyin’ High, coming in February—and Nate Leath’s spirited fiddling soon circles round it, carrying us into a foot-stomping, hand-clapping barn dance song. The animated music and vocals evoke the human tendency to look back and linger on the past that’s a part of us while celebrating those moments in the past that make us smile.
There’s a melancholy undertone to the song, but the band’s high-spirited vocals remind us to “enjoy the things that make you smile” for they’re gone in a little while. The energetic music spirals joyously upward as the final notes of the song fade, leaving us smiling.
As the band’s mandolinist, and writer of the song, Harry Clark recalls: “I was blessed with the good fortune to grow up in the southeastern foothills of the Ozarks in the Arkansas River Valley on a 26 acre plot. To the south was a goat farm, to the west was a power line, to the North was several hundred acres of woodlands owned by a paper company, and to the east was a highway that led 20 miles to town. Now that home place has long since sold and the paper company clear cut a large portion of those woods and my dog Buck has long gone on, but I’m grateful for the time I had there and the memories that won’t soon fade away.
I wrote this with the styling of Tim O’Brien in mind. Nate Leath can play something brand new on the fiddle and make it feel like it came from a few lifetimes ago and Georgie played claw-hammer banjo to suit. We didn’t have much direction for the ending, but I knew I wanted to play the hook a couple times through.
On the first pass we forgot to discuss what to do on the ending. What happened was a supernatural moment that only comes from everyone tapping in to some higher musical power and blindly trusting it to take us where we needed to go. The ending to this song ended up being one of all of our favorite moments on the album.”
“Little While” is from The Wooks’ album, Flyin’ High, available on February 25, 2022.