Lacy J. Dalton’s songs have an eerie way of coming true
Apparently when Lacy J. Dalton moved from Santa Cruz to Nashville in the late ’70s, she remained connected to this town in spirit: At the moment when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit, the country music star was in the studio with Glenn Campbell, recording a duet called “Shaky Ground” that she’d recently written with tunesmiths Even Stevens and Hillary Kanter. The song was about, of all things, earthquakes. “It was just so weird!” the singer/guitarist/songwriter recalls. “And I got a call that there was a terrible earthquake in California.”
This isn’t the only time one of Dalton’s songs has proved prescient: About six years ago, immediately after she wrote a sad country song called “What Don’t Kill You Makes You Strong,” her whole world collapsed. “My husband left me suddenly, and then the well on my property went dry, my car was stolen, the engine blew up, I went to Scotland to visit my son, and I had $27,000 worth of broken pipes in my house when I came home … my whole entire world went nuts right after I wrote that song,” she recalls. “And I was so glad that I had written that song, because it helped me!” One verse from the song was especially comforting to her: “Sweet love is here, and then it’s gone/Sometimes the pain goes on and on/Remember this when love goes wrong: Honey, what don’t kill you makes you strong.”
Dalton says that this kind of “hang in there” message has always been at the core of her music, adding that countless fans have told her that her song “Listen to the Wind” has helped them through hard times. The songwriter reveals that certain key lines from the song were inspired by a quote she once read by Western fiction author Louis L’Amour: something to the effect of, “There will come a time when you think you’ve reached the end, and that will be the beginning.” “It was something that just helped me; it was something that I always held on to, and it really gave me some strength at a time when I really needed it,” Dalton says. “I just wanted to spread that word around. Any good thing that I know has helped me, I want to share.”
Given Dalton’s compassionate streak, it’s not surprising that her gig at Don Quixote’s this Friday, Oct. 16 is a benefit for Valley Churches United Missions (vcum.org), a Ben Lomond-based humanitarian organization that provides aid to San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley residents in need. VCUM is an appropriate choice of an organization for a benefit taking place during the 20th anniversary of Loma Prieta: After the quake, the operation raised and distributed more than a half-million dollars in donated items and cash in order to help more than 3,000 disaster victims get back on their feet. In 1990, founder/director Annette Marcum received the National FEMA Award for Disaster Response for these efforts.
“The wonderful thing about [VCUM] is, if your kid is cold and needs a coat, you don’t have to go through a lot of red tape,” Dalton states. “They’ll ask you what size, go in the back room and get you a coat.”
Among other things, the singer will debut a new song called “It Takes an Earthquake Sometimes” at her Don Quixote’s show, which also features Zach Belanger & Friends. She says the song is based on the idea that there are times when your whole life has to hit the wall for you to wake up and become who you really are. “It’s as though we have layers, and sometimes we get pretty petrified within a layer, and something comes along like a sledgehammer and breaks that restricting mold around you,” she muses.
“I hope nothing happens when I play this new earthquake song!” she adds with a laugh. “You’ve got to be careful what you write about.”
Lacy J. Dalton & the Dalton Gang plus Zach Belanger & Friends perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16 at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. For more information, call 603-2294 or contact Annette Marcum at Valley Churches United Missions: 336-8258 ext. 223.