The story behind the self-titled, self-released debut album by the Tulsa, OK-based wife-and-husband musical team of Desirae Roses-Clinton and Cody Clinton can be heard in their songs. It’s a case of girl hears boy playing on the radio, sees his band live, they become friends, start dating, move in together and get married. The two never even considered joining forces musically until Cody heard Desi singing in the shower, and marveling at her voice, asked her to sing back-up harmonies on his solo EP. And that’s how Desi and Cody got their start as a performing duo.
The pair simultaneously released two EPs on a lark, one featuring Cody (Dog Days Comin’), the other Desi (In the Dead of Summer), to rapturous blog reviews. “This is what it might have sounded like if June Carter and Johnny Cash had made a studio album with The Beatles,” raved Jivewired.com. “The music is an eclectic blend of folk, rock and country with just enough pop familiarity to bring anyone along for the ride.”
Desi and Cody, which has been in the works for several years now, sees the duo pining their own relationship for inspiration in songs like the conversational “I’m Glad You Noticed Me,” about preparing to propose, and the bluesy, sultry soul of “I Wanna Feel Your Love.’ The deaths of both their fathers over the past few years inspired ruminations like the Roy Orbison/Everly Brothers/Traveling Wilburys-inspired “This Mornin’,” The Band-like “Unfamiliar Road” and acoustic folk of “Second Wind.” The first single, the jaunty, pop-rock of “Skyline,” with its gas-mask video, ponders the effects of environmental waste, pollution and urban decay. “Big Dream” offers a glimpse at following your destiny to make it big in L.A., while the old-school country-swing of “Roll With It,” was inspired by a fevered New Year’s Day dream Cody had of a Victrola playing an endless loop of a song, a Hank Williams and Patsy Cline duet, which sent him running through the snow to write it down before he forgot it.
Cody is part Cherokee, born in nearby Oologah, home of Will Rogers, who never met a man he didn’t like, and would certainly appreciate both Clintons. His father, a steelworker and radical union organizer, turned him on to The Beatles, while Cody gravitated to Gram Parsons, the Everlys, Roy Orbison and Gerry Rafferty. Desi, who was born in Vancouver, WA, grew up in Portland, but moved with her mother and four siblings to live with her grandparents in Claremore, OK, sang at an early age – mostly Broadway show tunes, Judy Garland and opera – but was discouraged from continuing by a misguided choir teacher. “Cody helped me fall in love with good music,” she admits, as well as helping restore the confidence in her singing again.
And while Cody writes most of the melodies and lyrics, he insists many of his ideas come from his better half. “A great deal of the words originally came out of her mouth,” he explains. “I just put them back in.”
“It wasn’t until we were in the studio that I felt comfortable offering my own melodic and lyrical ideas,” adds Desi. “I’ve always been a little timid about speaking up.”
The release of Desi and Cody has met with critical kudos. “It arrives at the perfect moment,” wrote The Tulsa Voice. “It begs to be played in the car with the windows rolled down, or at a backyard party in the late afternoon. It sounds the way a carefree summer day feels – and for my taste, there’s no higher praise an album could receive.”
Having signed their BMI publishing company Hawthorne Lake Music to former Bug Music SVP Creative Eddie Gomez’s Little Brother Music, Desi and Cody are now prepared to take their act on the road, with a 10-day Midwest and three-week West Coast tour later this summer, and another European jaunt on tap as well to follow the one they took last winter.
Looking to give back to the community, Cody has organized an after-school music education and appreciation program at downtown Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center, where much of the Okemah, OK, natives’ musical archives are stored. Desi also lends a hand with the students, who are taught the art of collaboration and what it’s like to put together a band, capping off the school year by performing an outdoor concert at the nearby Guthrie Green.
“It’s open for students from all income brackets,” says Cody, who reveals neither he nor Desi would’ve been able to afford such a program when they were younger.
With the release of Desi and Cody, the Clintons are ready for the next chapter.
“It really is a pretty revealing album,” Cody told the Middle of Nowhere blog. “To finally let it go feels cathartic, like letting go of all of that emotional baggage.”
Desi and Cody manages to transform that emotional baggage into making inspirational music together.
– Roy Trakin 2015
“Desi and I have traveled all over this country as well as Europe and Central America. We’ve spent time in and fell in love with cities like Nashville, LA, and Dublin. We have often talked about moving to Dublin for a few years… but deep down we know that Tulsa is home. We have a wealth of amazing talent to work and collaborate with here. We have the Woody Guthrie Center providing us with a fulfilling mission teaching children how to play together as a band in an After School Program. Now we have the Bob Dylan archives, the Gathering place, Tulsa FMAC, the OK Pop Museum, the Oklahoma Film and Music office and so many other great things to come that list is too long to recount. No matter where we go or what we do, Oklahoma will always be the place we call home,” said Cody Clinton.
For more information and to listen to her music, please visit Desi and Cody’s listing in the Oklahoma Music Directory.