Lone Justice – Shelter

Dolly Parton:it makes me so happy that after all of these years they are still Lone Justice with Maria, the greatest girl singer any band could ever have.

If I could have controlled the outcome of the 80s…Maria McKee and Lone Justice would have been huge. She is one of my favorite singers of that decade. I had friends listening to more commercial music…while I was stuck on Maria.

Lone Justice had all the potential in the world, but ended up more of a cautionary tale. They had a charismatic lead singer with Maria McKee, a big time producer in Jimmy Iovine, the backing of a major label and contributions from Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Little Steven, and many more. The problem is none of these people knew what to do with their blend of classic country and punk leaving Lone Justice to wither on the vine. One problem is that Geffen just was not patient enough.

Lone Justice was formed in 1982 and played rockabilly and country music as part of the cowpunk scene.

Shelter peaked at #47 in the Billboard 100 and #26 in the Mainstream Rock Tracks.

In 2014 This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 was released…this was pre-Geffen recordings with old country, traditional, and a few originals. I will be posting something from that collection.

Dolly Parton on Lone Justice and Maria McKee:

I have loved Lone Justice and Maria McKee since they first started out as a group. I remember going to see them at The Music Machine in Los Angeles in 1984. I was so impressed that I told everybody about them and encouraged different management people to manage them. I remember that different management groups and record labels wanted to break the group up and record the band and Maria as separate acts. And I remember hearing that they did not want to separate. No matter what might have gone on in the years between, it makes me so happy that after all of these years they are still Lone Justice with Maria, the greatest girl singer any band could ever have. Maria has such charisma and stage presence. I love her voice and her vocal style as well as the way the plays that big ol’ guitar and how she looks while she is playing it. I especially love this new CD. It has some of my favorite old songs on it and some new favorites that I’ve never heard. Hope you enjoy Lone Justice everybody…I know I will.

Respectfully and musically yours.
Dolly Parton


Well all right you gave it all up for a dream
Fate proved unkind
To lock the door and leave no key
You’re unsure
Well baby I’m scared too
When the world crushes you

Let me be you’re shelter shelter
From the storm outside
Let me be your shelter shelter
From the endless tide

Disillusion has an edge so sharp
It tears at your soul
And leaves a stain upon your heart
I need you to wash mine clean
You’ve felt it too
And you need me


Your struggle with darkness has left you blind
I’ll light the fire in your eyes


Your struggle with darkness has left you blind
I’ll light the fire in your eyes


Let me be your shelter shelter shelter shelter shelter


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

42 thoughts on “Lone Justice – Shelter”

  1. Had their first album in the 80ths. Fantastic singer and good band, but Maria McKee is a bit raucous and listening to too much of her is like going on a rollercoaster ride with an emotional wreck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She is high energy…very high energy. I really like the pre-Geffen music I’ve heard recently also. It’s old country and gospel standards…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Like the Counting Crows…they were way over hyped…that didn’t help.

      Last night I listened to some of their pre-Geffen music…country and old standards that is very different than what we heard back then.


  2. That one sounds familiar. I’ d be hard-pressed to name their songs now but I think maybe 4 got airplay at the time in Toronto.they were really good when I saw them open for U2. Too bad they didn’t persevere & maybe go to another label. Then again, seems like that rootsy country rock mix is a tough sell at the best of times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting Max. I’ve always loved this song – it was the first thing I heard from them. But now knowing the full story feel it really was not the best fit for them. We’re discussed this in different threads but you wonder if they had not come up in LA and had all the industry attention and signed to some independent label if things would have been different. I was listening today to some of the preGeffen material and that really sounds like where her musical heart was

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will post some of that pre-Geffen music. When you get Dolly Parton’s attention yea…you must do what you do well and it wasn’t what we heard especially on the second album.
      I believe you are right about LA…the hype really hurt them. The Counting Crows hype almost derailed them.

      To see Maria in that interview when she is sitting on the bed…you can tell the amount of pressure she had on her and them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Totally agree – my favorite on that pre Gefden album is Rattlesnake Mama – I think she also did an impromptu version of it in that interview as well

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Also not sure but was that Shayne Fontayne in the Shelter video? He was in Springsteen’s 92-93 touring band – always thought he had a rather unique onstage playing style – always made me chuckle

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On a different topic in terms of 89s college bands to feature – if you’re looking for another roots rock rockabilly have you ever heard of Scruffy the Cat? Out of Boston – never hit it really big but had some enjoyable songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never heard of them but I will give them a listen tonight. I have been listening to some very cool ones lately. I appreciate you giving more. One I got from CB I’m writing about soon… Railroad Jerk… they were from the 90s

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Had never heard of Lone Justice. It’s not a bad tune. I also sampled a few tracks from their first album including “Ways to be Wicked” and prefer that rawer sound over the more polished sound on this song. “Shelter” really sounds like an ’80s pop production.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes their record company pushed them into this mess…they were a wonderful band and I was in love with Maria McKee…yea she looked great but I loved her voice. Ways to be Wicked is great…Bob Dylan even wrote a song for them!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I got into Lone Justice a fair few years ago – a recommendation of a pal, who knew how much I liked alt. country and Americana in general. He suggested checking out Maria McKee and Lone Justice and gifted me a copy of Shelter later on. The biggest issue with the album and this song (in my opinion) is the production. I don’t know why Geffen thought adding some sheen would launch these guys in a way the debut didn’t… the songs are strong, but they sound a bit stifled.

    Anyhoo, this really is a good tune even if it doesn’t quite light a fire the way those initial recordings do.

    (Also, on a related note, Maria McKee’s You Gotta Sin to Get Saved is a crackin’ album).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were a victim of the 80’s big production no doubt. I’ve always liked their first album and their pre-Geffen recordings.

      Thanks I will check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. She is a really good lead singer…just love her voice on a lot of country ones I’ve heard. If Dolly liked her…she has to be something.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Didnt she hook up with Robbie Robertson on his first solo? Also guitarist Fontayne toured with Springsteen when I seen him when he did the Human Touch/Lucky Town tour. Just remembered I have her first solo also. Im a wealth of info today.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes you are! I’ve looked up pre-Geffen album by them that got released a few years ago…I’m going to have it the next time you visit.
        I was listening to the Streetwalkers this morning from your site…I’ll save that for tonight when I visit.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I really liked that first LJ record.
        (Im still stuck in the Streetwalker thing. Actually Family, the band they morphed from. It’s been on my box for a few days now.)


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