Nick Lowe accidentally became the Patron Saint of our trip to North Carolina for Merge XX in 2009. We were heading down to celebrate the Merge label’s 20th anniversary for four days and nights of live music, and the closest connection that could be made between Lowe and Merge at the time was that he was recording for the neighboring Chapel Hill-based imprint Yep Roc. I had brought along a couple of recent CD reissues for the ride down, and after hipping my fellow traveler (We’ll call him Rick.) to the wonders of COLD FACT by Rodriguez, we popped the deluxe reissue of Lowe’s JESUS OF COOL into the player. When I Love My Label, Lowe’s mostly sarcastic ode to Stiff Records came on as a bonus track, we pondered aloud how great it would be if one of Merge’s bands would cover that classic during the fest. Sure enough the amazing (and now sadly missing) band Oakley Hall did perform a heartfelt rendition and credited Saint Nick. The capper was when, I heard Cruel To Be Kind overhead in the Food Lion, forever linking Nick Lowe to the trip.