When Steve Moakler embarks on the Highway Finds Tour in March, he’ll have the songs off his full-length debut for CN Records, Steel Town, and a choice cover in his arsenal. For his recent tour with Old Dominion, the Pennsylvania singer-songwriter worked up a version of John Waite’s 1984 Number One “Missing You.”
The song remains one of the Eighties’ more timeless entries, free of the overly ambitious production that dates much of the decade’s material. Moakler says singer-actor Tyler Hilton’s take on “Missing You” first turned him on to the song – the original Waite version was released three years before Moakler was born – and cites the song’s chorus as its high point.
“I always want to record songs that I feel are timeless and that I can see myself singing 30 years from now. That’s my goal with the records I make and the songs that I write,” Moakler tells Rolling Stone Country. “I feel like ‘Missing You’ just fit our sound. I don’t have a lot of those great heartbreak songs. I love singing them, but I haven’t written a lot – maybe I’m not super heartbroken.”
Moakler debuted the cover while on the road with Old Dominion, and remains impressed by how crowds responded. Despite the song’s 33 years, there was clearly fan recognition.
“Covers are a hard thing because you don’t want to do something super obvious. You want to find those songs that are perfectly tucked back in everybody’s subconscious. ‘Missing You’ is one of those songs,” he says. “We’d see people light up. They didn’t expect it, but they loved it. It’s been one of the highlights of our set.”
Moakler’s focus right now, however, is on the new song “Wheels,” released last week. It’s his third single on influential Sirius XM channel The Highway, who are presenting Moakler’s upcoming tour with Drew Baldridge and the duo Smithfield.
“It’s the perfect metaphor for life,” says Moakler of “Wheels.” “There are wheels in every stage of life. And those are my favorite types of songs, where you can talk about something huge and use a very simple word. ‘Wheels’ is a song that, whether you’re rich, poor, single, heartbroken, Democrat or Republican, it can meet you somewhere.”
Moakler’s album Steel Town will be released March 17th.