In our weekly MKE Music Rewind, we revisit a notable Milwaukee song that was released before Milwaukee Record became a thing in April 2014.
If someone were to make a list of current Milwaukee music MVPs (seriously, someone should make that list), Mark Waldoch would be near the top. The nattily dressed musician has long been a familiar presence on local bills, forever lending his unmistakable and unpredictable voice to seemingly any venue, show, or event that needs it. Like summer or that hot dog guy on the corner of Wisconsin and Water, Waldoch is a Milwaukee institution. Look around and he’ll be there, sporting an unchanging dress shirt, tie, and vest combo.
Waldoch has been performing solo as of late, but 10 years ago he was fronting the wonderfully rocking Celebrated Workingman. The group put out two records during their run, 2008’s Herald The Dickens and 2011’s Content Content. (A third record, Don’t Let Your Memories Kill You, was released post-breakup in 2014 and attributed to “Mark Waldoch’s Celebrated Working Man.”) Those albums are stuffed with plenty of full-band rock and roll—all swirling around Waldoch’s full-throated voice, of course—but I’ve always found myself drawn to the records’ quieter moments. Take “A Lover’s Waltz,” for example, from Content Content:
“A Lover’s Waltz” is an anomaly in The Celebrated Workingman’s discography, featuring only Waldoch’s voice and a piano. It’s heartbreakingly lovely. It speaks for itself. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time from a Milwaukee artist. Here are the opening lyrics:
In other words there are no words to say how much I’ve loved you
All above the tips of trees and endless seas adore you
And I will not confide in all of those endless sighs
And troubled cries
Of the lonely inside
I last saw Waldoch perform at the Jazz Gallery during this year’s Arte Para Todos (I also saw him bartending at the new Boone & Crockett last night). Even though he didn’t play it, I was reminded of “A Lover’s Waltz” during his set. Both live and on record, there’s always a “big moment” (let’s call it the “Waldoch moment”) when the singer untethers his voice and, pardon the language, simply belts it the fuck out. I always brace myself before those moments, hold my breath, and exhale when the landing is inevitably stuck. It never gets old.
In “A Lover’s Waltz,” that “Waldoch moment” occurs at the end of the second verse. Here are the final lyrics:
Inside these bones
A heart that moans
And I will wait
As long as it takes
Seven years after its release, Content Content remains a terrific album (the title track and “Give Me Something I’ll Miss” are two other quiet-moment standouts). “A Lover’s Waltz” remains a terrific song, too, forever highlighting the invaluable presence and careening power of its singer. Its big moments are worth waiting for, as long as it takes.