Most of the songs I post here are old favorites, but every now and then I try to reach forward into the present. I have never been good at following particular musicians or ferreting out new stuff, and I always used to rely on friends for recommendations. I don’t get much of that any more, but, fortunately, I have some former students who are friends on Facebook, and I lurk around their comments about music looking for new sounds. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up on a reference to Father John Misty’s new album Fear Fun.
I’ve also been in the process of adjusting to the idea of my sabbatical being over. I know, big violins, right? Sabbatical has been a miraculous, year-long, hard-working, peaceful, and re-prioritizing time for me. It is hard to see it go, and I’ve been trying to figure out strategies for holding on to some of the peace and humanity that I’ve found this year.
So it was with delight that I found these two songs—the first one, “Year in the Kingdom,” from the J. Tillman album of the same name, reflects a bit of how I have felt about this year, even my sorrow at its passing.
However, Josh Tillman has more recently been recording under the pseudonym Father John Misty. Evidently, with a move from Seattle to Laurel Canyon and a departure from his association with the band Fleet Foxes, he’s come out of a long period of melancholy. His new album has been praised for its variety of mood as well as its musical sophistication in the folk vein, though its lyrics are frequently still dark in tone.
The song below, “I’m Writing a Novel,” with its hallucinogenic sense of humor, points me in a good direction for the coming year. I chose the version to embed because of its bouncy instrumentation. Plus it’s cute to watch the funny dancing. But I also really enjoyed this guitar-only version at the Guardian for its dead-pan delivery of a whacky set-up story about the song’s evolution, and because, if you watch carefully, there’s a little bug that falls out of his hair and crawls across his shoulder in the first seconds (about 42-44 seconds in) of the video. I like these reminders about perspective.