Song Review: Dean Summerwind, “Parked Out By The Lake”

If this is the first time you’ve heard this song, take a good look around, because you’re going to remember this moment for the rest of your life.

Dean Summerwind has been kicking around country music for several years ago, performing on The Voice and releasing several albums under the pseudonym “Dustin Christensen.” This year, however, Summerwind cast aside his alter ego and stopped trying to sound like everyone else, and instead followed his heart and struck out in a fresh new musical direction. The result is a humble song that will someday rival Jefferson’s declaration, Lincoln’s address, and King’s dream as one of the most monumental masterpieces in American history: “Parked By The Lake,” a bold, innovative piece of country music that will melt even the hardest of hearts. (Seriously, step away from your computer before you put this on—I went through four laptops trying to write this because my tears kept shorting out the circuitry.)

The production is an unconventional mix that laughs at genre trends and traditions, delivering a unique, moving sound that the listener never sees coming. The melody is carried by (gasp!) a rough-edged electric guitar, one played in a novel and unorthodox style that manages to take the track’s pain and drive it directly into your soul like a roofing nail (which is then hammered home by a prominent percussion set). Together, the guitar and drums create a somber, sorrowful atmosphere (almost dangerously so), brilliantly using minor chords to signal to the listener that a deep, substantive song is coming. (The technique is so effective that it’s a wonder no else had thought to do it before!) The track’s volume management is yet another innovation, as it steps back during the verses to let the lyrics sink in before ramping back up on the choruses to maintain its energy and momentum. It’s the kind of mix that stops you in your tracks the moment you hear in, drawing listeners in like flies and leaving a deep impression that lasts long after the song has ended. I’m calling it right now: You’re going to hear a lot of artists jumping on the bandwagon and imitating this fresh new style in in not-so-distant future.

We already knew that “Dustin Christensen” was a decent singer with suitable range and flow, but embracing his true identity seems to have freed Summerwind’s mind and soul, enabling him to deliver the kind of moving, emotional performance that would make “King” George Strait abdicate his throne after a single playthrough. Summerwind demonstrates an incredible ability to transfer the pain he feels to the listener, and his ability to paint pictures with his voice is simply unmatched. By the second verse, you feel as if you’re sitting there beside him in the truck, crying over his lost love as you stare out across the clear blue waters of Lake David.* “Vacant Motel Heart” was a sad song, sure, but on “Parked Out By The Lake,” Summerwind ups the ante and takes the misery quotient to a while new level.

*Clearly the song is referring to Lake David; even if you didn’t know David was 80 miles from Santa Fe by way of I-25, the writing is so sharp and specific that you can distinguish it even from next-door Lake Isabel.

And the writing…my goodness, just look at it:

And I’m parked out by the lake
Eighty miles from Santa Fe
It’s the lake that’s parked where I’m at out by the lake
And this lake is where I’m parked
Eighty miles from Santa Fe
And I’m still parked out here by this lake
Eighty miles from Santa Fe

Such wit! Such eloquence! Why, if Shakespeare were writing Romeo and Juliet today, he’d be begging Summerwind to be a co-writer (along with Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, and Dallas Davidson, of course).

The story here is unlike anything you’ve ever heard: The narrator has parked his vehicle next to a large body of water, and is just sitting there thinking about the women who left him. Everything here is avant-garde and perfectly executed, from the novel inclusion of trucks, lakes, and parking to the vivid imagery that lets you see the ripples on the lake. This holds especially true for the unheard amount of subject variation found here—in fact, there might be a bit too much variation in the lyrics, as throwing in that bit about “someday I’m gonna move” might be too much for normal listeners to handle! It’s an incredible achievement, one that make us proud that we were here to witness it.

“Parked By The Lake” is more than just a country song. It’s the kind of transformative, meaningful statement that sixth-graders will someday be memorizing to recite during school assemblies. From the pen to the mixing board, we’ve never seen or heard anything like this incredible track, and the ramifications for country music are going to be huge and long-lasting. In a way, I feel a bit bad for Mr. Summerwind: When you put together a track this good, how could you ever follow it up?

Rating: 11/10. Perhaps the greatest song I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing.

(Happy April Fools Day, everyone!)