From Squirrel Bait to Oprah

Squirrel Bait

Former Squirrel Bait and Big Wheel frontman Peter Searcy (above, at CBGB’s in the 1980s, flanked by Squirrel Bait bandmates Clark Johnson and Brian McMahon, and sporting a St. Francis High School sweatshirt?) gets a big feature in today’s Courier-Journal, thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey. What’s that, you say? How does a guy go from opening for the infamous G.G. Allin at 16 to, much later, having his music featured on a special by “the most powerful woman in television?” As Jeffrey Lee Puckett explains, it’s all about licensing:

Searcy’s song, “I Believe,” from his latest album, “Spark,” has been chosen for use on “Oprah’s Big Give,” which has its debut at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

It’s a “reality-contestant” show in which people are given hundreds of thousands of dollars and challenged to give it away in the most helpful, creative ways possible. The best philanthropist will be crowned the winner and receive a grand prize that Oprah is keeping secret.

“I Believe,” an upbeat song about the redeeming power of faith, may only be used for the premier — but it’s hard to say. Oprah could fall in love with it.

Meanwhile, commercials for NBC’s new “Lipstick Jungle” series have been featuring “I Believe,” with early versions splashing Searcy’s name and the song title across the bottom of the screen, MTV-style.

Song placement is a big part of how the music business works in the 2000s. Record stores and radio airplay have given way to downloads and exposure through TV and movie soundtracks.

“Radio stations can’t program new songs and artists like they used to,” Searcy said. “It’s funny because you grow up as a kid and you want your songs on the radio, but as a working artist, song placement is the best way to keep making money.”

Searcy’s introduction to Oprah’s world was facilitated by friend and song-placement professional Jonathan Palmer. Palmer, a former Louisvillian, is a creative licensing staffer for Columbia Records and helps get songs placed in high-profile movies and TV shows.

So there you have it. Mind you, it’s not clear from the article how long Searcy’s song “I Believe” will be on air during Oprah’s “Big Give,” but what the hell. Good job, Peter.

Squirrel Bait

UPDATE: Because I’m a nice guy, have lots of free time and a pretty extensive music collection, here’s Squirrel Bait’s “Hammering So Hard” from their debut EP. Enjoy. To hear Searcy’s”I Believe,” check out his site at


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