(music critics please skip to chapter 1)
I have never, prior to now, really written a love song.
Love songs, here in what will certainly be remembered by history as the nadir of human art, or maybe "The Plastic Age", are just so passé. I remember something about a major label singer-songer bucking her label's insistence that she deliver more "love songs" by writing a song about not-wanting-to-write-love-songs and it being a big hit. HAR HAR
That probably happened an embarrassingly long time ago to be considered relevant.
Why am I opening this bio that way? How has that part made it through to the 12th draft? What is her name?
I just watched the video for that song like twice.
That is how much I do not want to write this bio.
But for however much I do not want to write this bio, I want someone else to write it even less.
I'm actually kind of having fun now, which is probably less than I can say for you.
I would now like to take this opportunity to pontificate on the current state of love songs in the culture:
Love songs (or even just "love" as a topic) are at the major disadvantage of being based on the oldest, most fundamental inspiration in the history of human consciousness. The best concept we as a race have cultivated, by now, we're just, like, so over and have decided it's good for little else than fueling celebrity gossip, soccer mom erotica, reveling in sophomoric self-pity with, or reducing down to eye-rolling truisms at the end of computer animated liberal ideological propaganda kiddie movies. Hence the collective, pervy fascination with 17-21 year old entertaino-child slaves detailing the scintillating intimates of their very public romances in tabloid real-time since we're all more than happy to concede that a, God forbid, spiritual notion of romance just doesn't make for
Okay, this is derailing quickly.
Did you see what I was doing there? I do it a lot.
I avoid talking about myself honestly by making grand, incoherent, reductionist commentary rooted in my pretty dim and generally uniformed view of humanity.
I don't really know if love songs are passé or whatever. Maybe they're all the rage. I don't care.
I will say, however, that it seems like the only acceptable perspectives from which to write about love in the current cultural hegemony (HEGEMONY, HEGEMONY, HEGEMONY) are that of 1.) persecuted, heartbroken pathos or 2.) infantile, sentimental banality. More often than not the former (1.), which is really not to sing about love at all, but rather the absence of love, which is self-pity, which is nothingness, or, more accurately: jerking-off, which takes a lot less work than honest-to-God fucking.
TAKE THAT, WORLD.
I did not just take a break to jerk-off.
So, at risk of sounding precious, let's try again:
I've been writing songs for this album since 2011. It has taken on a few different manifestations in the by and by. Its original conceit was one of lots of depressing, gory play-by-plays of prurient misadventure and sexual humiliation. A few of them made it onto the album.
"She blames her excess on my influence, but gladly hoovers all my drugs. I found her naked with her best friend in the tub, and we sang "Silent Night" in three parts, which was fun."
This was comfortable territory for me by this time, and, high on a couple half-baked transcendental realizations, I figured my work in terms of transforming and, as Jodorowsky puts it, "creating a soul" were over. I had discovered my "true self" and a fixed identity which catered to my ego and pain, and decided my purpose on this fucking rock was to systematically obliterate that self for the sustained production of a certain type of song.
Then I fell in love with a stranger in a parking lot.
What the fuck was I supposed to write about then? Kissing in the rain? Looking deeply into each other's eyes? Riding dolphins betwixt rainbows of eternity?
I WON'T DO IT!
Love, and songs for that matter, knows things about you way before you do. For example, that you desperately want a radical transformation out of the state of being your original tragedy (God! Mommy! Why?) left you with.
"I brought my mother's depression, you've got your father's scorn and a wayward aunt's schizophrenia. But everything is fine, don't give in to despair, 'cause I love you, Honeybear."
That you want to dismantle an intellect which is just set on a feedback loop of telling your self-pity what it wants to hear.
"Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity, but what I fail to see is what that's got to do with you and me."
That you want to know the fucking truth about yourself.
"I've got nothing to hide from you. Kissing my brother in my dreams or finding God-knows in my jeans. You see me as I am, it's true. The aimless, fake drifter and the horny, man-child, Mamma's boy to boot."
That you suspect there is more to the co-joining of souls than just replaying your karmic cycle with different host bodies over and over.
"How many people rise and think, 'Oh good, the stranger's body's still here, our arrangement hasn't changed'? Now I've got a lifetime to consider all the ways I grow more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades."
That you are exhausted by letting your fear and contrarianism define your future.
"Say, do you wanna get married, and put an end to our endless, progressive tendency to scorn provincial concepts like your 'dowry' and your 'Daddy's farm'?"
That as loathe as you are to admit it, your personal truth (pluralistic, I know) is often found in your contradictions, and you suspect a real sense of identity can survive these polarities.
"That's how you live free - to truly see and be seen."
Topics which aren't cliché, sentimental drivel to me, and I pity those poor geniuses for whom they are. In fact, it all sounds like a real motherfucker to try and address in 45 minutes of music.
It would have been impossible for me to write about the last few years of my life in some singular, didactic way and have it bear any resemblance to the truth. I lost my mind with jealousy as well as discovered a new echelon of liberty I had no idea existed. I flirted with disaster and also realized my love is a precious thing to give. I indulged my planetary self-pity and learned how to kill my ego by seeing myself through the eyes of someone who loves me. Thus, this thing is a little all over the place, and simultaneously all points on the same continuum.
"I Love You, Honeybear" was recorded intermittently from 2013 to 2014 in Echo Park, Los Angeles and produced with Jonathan Wilson, who I also recorded and produced 2012's Fairly Fun with.
There's a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn. Blammo.
The songs are a narration of my experience falling in love, which means different things to different people, but which I found incredibly inspiring, personally and creatively. My personal mandate for the writing herein was to claim the experience for myself without resorting to a multitude of clichés. I believe I have addressed the sensuality of fear, the terrifying force of love, the unutterable pleasures of true intimacy, and the destruction of emotional and intellectual prisons with an imprint that is undeniably my own. Blammo.
This is a fairly experimental record, in that, I "experimented" with several different approaches for each song (which is part of why it took so long to record) even though the arrangements and styling are fairly classic. Taking a larger producer role this time around gave me license to indulge no small degree of ambivalence and uncertainty. This material demanded from me a new way of being made, and it took a lot of time before that revealed itself. I believe we found a way to make something that is meticulous but natural, dense but still sounds spacious. Mostly I had to overcome the temptation to think that the method by which the last record was made would suffice this time around too.
PRODUCED BY JOSH TILLMAN AND JONATHAN WILSON
MIXED BY PHIL EK
MASTERED BY GREG CALBI
SUPPLIMENTARY CONTENT: INSTRUCTIONS FOR LISTENING
I LOVE YOU HONEYBEAR
- 1 (one) blazing hot August morning
- 1 (one) itchy mouth
- 1 (one) hung-over semi-hard-on
- 1 (one) ocean of hot, half metabolized brown liquor in your stomach
- 1 (one) 2 (two) week old inexplicable, looming dread*
- 1 (one) '68 Cadillac DeVille (any color, author recommends Primer White)
- 1 (one) intellect
- 1 (one) ego
- 1 (one) moment of clarity (subject to availability)
- the desert
- ¼ lb ground beef
- salt, pepper
* preferably an old, abiding one that you were damned sure true love was going to eradicate this time around
Take blazing August morning and position itchy mouth and hot ocean anywhere within. Cough and clear throat (should taste like tar). Roll your slackened, puffy body onto the body of your loved one. Using your semi-hard-on, attempt to make display of virility and imperviousness to hot ocean of brown liquor in your stomach.
Next, drive across town in absurd vehicle and, using your $60, buy 2 (two) rounds of lattes at historic Hollywood hotel for you and loved one. Place marbles in mouth and attempt to describe inexplicable, looming dread.
Note: Lavish diversions will provide no significant relief from ILD
Take his/her suggestion to make a trip to the desert. No one will be there as it is August and hot as all get out.
While in desert, rapidly alternate between fey attempts at your best impression of a "happy-go-lucky" disposition and the black, all-consuming desolation you feel. Convince yourself that in order to maintain the affection and respect of loved one you must anesthetize, and condescend to, your own pain.
Using your intellect, isolate yourself from the legitimacy of your experiences (see: Mommy, God, etc). Keep believing that self-deprecating jokes and self-analysis are effective ways to 1.) appear in control and maintain aforementioned affection and respect from loved one and 2.) minimize true intimacy which would definitely, according to your fear, result in loved one realizing what a, like, characterless, weak, emotionally stunted little shit you are.
Simultaneously, use the ego to nourish pain and establish its singular, unique nature in all cases applicable to you.
Repeat until you feel fucking crazy.
Note: You are fucking crazy. The world is fucking crazy. Our appetites and needs and fears are all fucking crazy. Until you realize this for yourself you will remain incapable of taking refuge in, or even identifying, another person who realizes the same thing.
With loved one, aimlessly walk into desert. Just keep walking and walking.
Climb up on to a gigantic rock.
Watch as loved one walks further and further away until he/she is about pocket-sized. Watch them crawl up onto a gigantic rock.
Wave at each other - note how small the other person's insecurities, doubt, and pain appear to you, and conversely, how small yours must appear to them.
Savor moment of clarity and accompanying dissipation of isolation and dread.
Note: You in fact have not walked very far but have simply just made one gigantic lap around the rental house. You laugh maniacally.
You are now very hungry. Take ¼ lb. ground beef and vigorously knead in salt and pepper with clean hands. Form into patties and grill over an open flame to your preference.
CHATEAU LOBBY #4
EXERCISE FOR 2 (TWO) STRANGERS:
1.) Adhere a map to a wall and pick up a dart.
2.) Have someone put a blindfold on you.
Note: Do not attempt blindfolding yourself with a dart in your hand.
3.) Throw dart at map.
4.) Get born there.
Note: Do not remove blindfold.
5.) Acquaint yourself with suffering.
Note: Remove blindfold.
6.) Gather experiences, some formative and some merely incidental (don't even bother trying to parse out which is which).
7.) Achieve pubescence.
8.) Behave like a robot wearing a human-face mask with a tiny frightened animal manning the helm whom God watches masturbate for a few years.
Note: You will need the human-face mask later.
9.) Create a personal PR firm dedicated to the rebranding of yourself.
Note: Administer yourself a human-face mask that bares some passing resemblance to the face you were born with.
10.) Experiment with consuming and discarding the love of others to differing degrees of duration/intensity until you feel like you've got a handle on what it is you think you're, like, looking for.
11.) Repeat listening exercise 10 until you gradually become aware of not strictly the suffering you and you alone experience, but the suffering you cause other people.
Note: AKA "consciousness"
12.) Become overwhelmed and misappropriate this revelation for occasion to self-loathe.
Note: Here it is helpful to self-identify as something like "Destroyer Of Worlds." Since you are wearing a mask you may as well be dramatic.
13.) Let this self-loathing worldview eventually lead you into literally loathsome behavior.
Note: see exercises for "The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment" and/or "Strange Encounter"
15.) Randomly meet new stranger
Note: AKA Boredom Alleviation Black Hole Fuel
Note: There is a giant figurative dart cresting the horizon on the figurative map!
Note: See "I Went To The Store One Day"
16.) Momentarily forget everything about listening exercises 10-14 and tell yourself that new pieces of ass make life worth living.
17.) Start talking to new stranger.
Note: Which, for some reason, makes human-face mask keeps getting in the of, and thus is painfully and incrementally removed.
18.) Eventually fall in love with new stranger and believe yourself when you say it.
Note: Your suspicions that you have no idea how to love yet are well-grounded. See exercise 21.
19.) Watch everything change.
20.) Watch everything change again.
21.) Watch everything keep changing.
Note: Have loved one reapply blindfold. Gladly defer to what they tell you about themselves, you, and the world.
Buy a piece of consumer technology which will undoubtedly be obsolete in 50 years.
Write messages and take pictures/video* for someone you think you love, who you're pretty sure does not love you back.
Belabor over each one as if it is upon the immaculate phrasing and subtle humor of each one that the love of your object of affection will be won.
Save them all to "Draft".
After approximately 50 years send them all to someone who ended up loving you back.
*be sure to account for telecommunication fads and products unforeseen at time of writing
THE NIGHT JOSH TILLMAN CAME TO OUR APARTMENT
"Hey, euphemism for an infant- haven't seen you in period of time. No, I'm not here with anyone. I get past-tense verb alone pretty much every time of day of the calendar unit these days. I more or less subterranean bridge dweller up and down the strip of bars here and get past-tense verb out of my body part. I would come direction more often, but I prefer to just verb out into the middle distance on this side of town. Just even getting down the hill is like 20th century military operation. I'm, like smoking any semi-elicit plant all day until I can't verb straight and I spend at least kind of outrageous interval of time just staring at the van, any past-tense condition resulting from major spinal trauma¬ in inexplicable indecision and sensation tantamount to spiritual Anthrax. I haven't eaten in seriously? days for the same reason, and I've had, like, you need some water of these, so you can see why I don't really venture across town.
Hey, but, you know, I do have some elicit substance here and I was headed into the - oh, yeah, no definitely I, like, hardly ever do this anymore, it's handicap of a mental nature, I just like literally figurative past tense verb into my slang for male friend on the street and he adverb forced it on me, so I figured exclamatory cliché, you know? Ha ha, no totally.
Damn, this adjective any obscenity does taste like any fruit. I was meaning to tell you, I verb preposition article noun and I really think that I verb. The plural noun are running together so fast, all my experiences feel so arbitrary? Vague? Interchangeable?
What? It's what time? Already? Sure, let's verb.
God, My noun is really adjective.
Noun verb noun verb noun verb"
- the country
- the sky
- a blanket (available at fatherjohnmisty.com)
1.) Get up early and take a drive out to the country.
2.) Find a spot where the sky is the biggest and lay down a blanket.
3.) Wait until noon or whenever the sun is highest in the sky.
4.) Star gaze.
WHEN YOU'RE SMILING AND ASTRIDE ME
EXERCISE IN TWO PARTS:
Try to love someone with only your successes.
Try to love someone with only your offbeat sense of humor.
Try to love someone with only your great listening skills.
Try to love someone with only your mindful awareness of the now.
Try to love someone only with your enviable shoulder-to-hips-width ratio.
Try to love someone only with your ability to talk extensively on a wide berth of interesting topics.
Try to love someone with only your progressive worldview.
Try to love someone with only your deep and abiding spirituality.
Try to love someone with only your insatiable virility and sexual open-mindedness.
Try to love someone omitting entirely your suspicions that you are some kind of talentless fraud and one day the world is going to find out and then where will you be?
Try to love someone omitting entirely that you think you might only ever cry out compassion for yourself and how pathetic is that. Jesus.
Try to love someone omitting entirely that sometimes when you walk past a homeless person sitting next to a dumpster drinking beer you, like, want to be him for some reason.
Try to love someone omitting entirely that you sort of want to sexually dominate them.
Try to love someone omitting entirely that it's really important to your conversely planetary and extremely fragile ego that no one in your proximity's creative pursuits ever take precedence over yours.
Try to love someone omitting entirely that you have dreams where that very someone is brazenly fucking someone else right there in front of you and you're screaming at them to stop and they're crying that they're sorry and you wake up kind of turned on and confused at the same time.
Try to love someone omitting entirely that you feel like you, in the early phase of your relationship, consciously or not, wildly misrepresented a.) your competence of traditionally "manly" skills b.) the cool effortlessness with which you can just kind of let things roll of your back and c.) the total absence of paranoiac jealously in your emotional DNA.
Try to love someone omitting entirely your fear that the more intimately you are known the less likely to be loved you are.
See how long that lasts.
NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS AT THE GODDAMN THRISTY CROW
- a lot of uppers
- a lot of alcohol
- two continents
- a nearly non-existent market for "Fear Fun" in Germany
- a promotional tour for "Fear Fun" in Germany
- a bar
- two phones
- an inferiority complex
- an over-developed and possibly archaic sense of male entitlement
- a bunch of dudes equipped with a God-given sixth sense to detect the faintest whiff of female loneliness
Take all your supplies and divide them among you and someone you love.
Walk in opposite directions from one another for 6 weeks.
BORED IN THE USA
Make yourself a pot of tea.
Don't steep it too long.
Sit down somewhere you can quiet your mind.
Contemplate the ways in which your mind is like a cup and a tea pot is all the ideas and beliefs in the world.
Angrily throw the pot of tea as hard as you can against the cup and scream, "I can do whatever the fuck I want to do!".
Use your freedom to go buy a $5 whole milk latte from a globo-national corporation and take a seat outside near the bus stop squinting in the mid-day sun.
- one (1) deathbed
- one (1) pencil with eraser (available at fatherjohnmisty.com)
- one (1) pad of paper
Draw a portrait of yourself as a baby.
Erase the portrait of yourself as a baby.
Draw a portrait of yourself as a young person.
Erase the portrait of yourself as a young person.
Draw a portrait of yourself as an old person.
Now, erase the portrait of yourself as an old person.
Realize that you've died many times before.
Draw a portrait of someone you loved.
Hand the pad of paper entitled "Self-Portraits" to your nurse and say, "Look, that's me."
Let the nurse pat your head.
Anytime you say the word "myself" pronounce it "Myslef" and mentally capitalize it as you would a proper noun or name.
Do this until "Myslef" begins to feel like some person other than yourself.
Practice this as a way to make sense of the ways that the shit you're pulling lately just doesn't feel like you're quite being yourslef.