Andrew Bird’s latest single from last year’s Inside Problems is accompanied by an extended, alternate arrangement called “Never Fall Apart: Epilogue,” available now.
Bird says, “Back from the brink we may have pulled ourselves back together (though tenuously) for the moment. I recorded ‘Epilogue’ outside in Ojai, CA in January of 2021 for a documentary about news deserts in rural America. I felt I captured something that’s hard to nail because I was playing only for myself. I just happened to be recording. So I sang the lyrics to never fall apart over it, giving the song a different dimension.”
Andrew Bird and Phoebe Bridgers must be pals now. From reinterpreting Emily Dickinson poems to covering Handsome Family classics, these two are already about 1/7th the way to making a whole album together. A very, very sad album. Happy holidays, everybody!
Their Dickinson jam just got a video, made in collaboration with the Emily Dickinson Museum and featuring handwritten transcripts and footage of Dickinson’s lifelong home. See where the magic happened! That sweet, lonely, revolutionary, poetic magic.
Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. From Inside Problems, out now on Loma Vista.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I kind of hate Andrew Bird because he’s so good looking. And talented. And cool. It’s not fair. Felt the same way about Chris Isaak. But that’s a “me” problem. It’s not his fault he’s got it all.
Bird says this new song is about “digesting images from historic events and constituting a narrative for your memory. ‘Tell us what you think you saw. Make a picture.’ We saw a lot of horror and darkness and a lot of inspiring bravery. So, what’s the story we tell after digesting? What’s the synapses’ synopsis?”
And clever. Jerk.
Don’t you know that I’m an irrepressible optimist
Working with a fatal flaw
Running in the streets
Like feral cats will be hard to miss
Take a knee and raise a paw.
The video is a combination of implied gore and herding oversized cats. In a fair world, this would go viral. The internet loves cats! And extracting film stock from your veins. Right?
Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. Single out now.
In the 1919 in the middle of the first World War and an influenza epidemic, William Butler Yeats wrote a poem:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Doesn’t require much updating to be relevant today, does it?
In 1967 after spending some time with a bunch of filthy hippies in Haight-Ashbury, Joan Didion wrote an essay called “Slouching Toward Jerusalem,” taking its title from the last line in Yeats’ poem. In the preface of a 1968 collection of her work, she explained why the piece was important to her:
It was the first time I had dealt directly and flatly with the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart: I went to San Francisco because I had not been able to work in some months, had been paralyzed by the conviction that writing was an irrelevant act, and that the world as I had understood it no longer existed. If I was to work again at all, it would be necessary for me to come to terms with disorder.
And now here we are in 2022.
They’ll demagnetize your poles
And you know they’re gonna try to delete you
So now you’re atomized, unwhole
You know better start making your apologies
Stop blaming technology.
Andrew Bird says, “Didion was updating W.B. Yeats for the fractious 60s, this song takes it to the pixelated present where it’s not just society that is getting atomized but the self that is being broken apart and scattered.” In Yeats’ and Didion’s defense, I think that was implied all along. But as far as I know, neither Yeats nor Didion could whistle or fiddle nearly as well as Andrew Bird.
Directed by Matthew Daniel Siskin. From My Finest Work Yet, out March 22 on Loma Vista.
You know the story of Sisyphus: the Greek king condemned to to roll a big boulder up a mountain for eternity. As soon as he gets close to the top, it rolls back down.
Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like the whole goddamn world in 2019, doesn’t it? Feels like we’re all doomed to repeat the same mindless bullshit over and over, and the moment it seems like things might be getting better, we gotta start all over again.
Hopeful people say that the arc of the moral universe is long, and it bends toward justice.
Whatever gets you through the night, but it’s getting harder and harder to believe it.
History forgets the moderates
For those who sit
Recalcitrant and taciturn
You know I’d rather turn and burn than scale this edifice
Bird says the song “is about being addicted to your own suffering and the moral consequences of letting the rock roll.”
Andrew Bird always sounds cool and calm. Even when he’s scared and angry.
They’re profiting from your worry
They’re selling blanks down at the DMZ
They’re banking on the sound and fury
Makes you wonder what it all’s got to do with me
“Bloodless” has a jazzy, mellow vibe but its message is hardcore.
Bird says, “We find ourselves in a cold civil war. Everyone is playing their part too well. Certain actors are reaping power and wealth from divisiveness. Echoes of the Spanish civil war when fascists and clergy win because they put up a united front against the individualistic and principled (yet scattered) left. We can turn this ship around but need to step back and be honest with ourselves about what’s happening while it’s still relatively bloodless.”
Just last year, musician Andrew Bird spent four days recording at the Loft. He spent the entire first day arranging the studio space just to get the right violin sound. Using microphones placed around the room, he was able to pick up the acoustics of his violin as well as the sound of the amps bouncing off the walls. The sixty-plus guitars sitting around the room all hummed along, as the vibrations from everything else shook and resonated the steel strings, adding even more texture to the sound. The Loft is, essentially, an instrument of its own.
Looks like they’ve done a fine job of replacing all the gear that Jay Bennetttook with him after they kicked him out, ha ha. But do they have a Mellotron? There are apparently additional photos in the print version of the magazine.
This song features all the things you love about Andrew Bird: whistling, nerdy smart lyrics, violin, plus hand claps. What more could you want? The album is a bit of a sleeper, but repeated listenings will reveal more and more.