Love Letter To A Record: Royal & The Southern Echo On Father John Misty’s ‘I Love you, Honey Bear’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Royal & The Southern Echo – I Love you, Honey Bear by Father John Misty

Hey so, it’s been a long while.

I’m sorry I haven’t visited for a bit. At least until today. I wanted to go away because I thought I had moved on. I’ve moved on from a lot of records – but I guess here we are. It’s not about forgetting, it’s more so I tried to think you weren’t important. I feel like a bit of an idiot because I keep coming back to you every couple of years. Every time that I do I’m amazed at every insecure yet confident layer you have. You’re a bit of a contradiction and that’s why I love you.

I remember the first time we met. I was really struggling. I used to work my guts out in a place in Berlin on Törstrasse – which was the first time I knew what hard work was. I had loved your younger brother (Fear Fun), but I actually wasn’t ready for what you were about to deliver. I was just a kid, I didn’t want the feelings – I wanted the swagger and wooziness.

February is really cold in Berlin. I know that’s an obvious observation but I think it added to what might have been one of the strangest times I’ve been in – I felt very contained and cooped up. It was a time where I needed direction and no one was there to give it to me – except you. You were one of the first records where I got it – where someone could be completely open and vulnerable but still remain the objective observer. I’m not just talking musically here. I think you actually helped me be able to express myself to the people around me.

The park I used to try and grab some perspective in was called Koppenplatz – the tiniest little strip of green reprieve. I can actually remember the day you came out and I ran there to hear it on my lunch break.

I remember buying you with close to my last 10 bucks I had left because I just needed to hear you. I remember being puzzled at first. Initially I thought you were a rehash. But little by little you taught me that love is ok and it’s ok to write about it – and to shout about it. And to shout about the shit things too. By the time the title track hit the bridge I was sold…

“Don’t ever doubt this, my steadfast conviction

My love, you’re the one I want to watch the ship go down with

The future can’t be real, I barely know how long a moment is

Unless we’re naked, getting high on the mattress

While the global market crashes”

I think these lines illustrate what you do so well, the mixing of the micro and the macro. The attempt to understand where our personal and intense lives fit into the grand scheme of things in this ever changing and bizarre world that seems to drown us out in a constant torrent of information.

I mean and then you go and kick into the beautiful ridiculous love song ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)’ which is just incredible. I think the guitars are tuned a full step down which gives it this thin but massive rollicking feel, it makes me feel like a bar room brawler when it comes on. The horns are so romantic, giving the whole song this beautiful counterpoint that throws the whole thing on its head. They are definitely the inspiration for the horns on my song ‘Hunt Your Love Down’.

I could talk about every song at length but that wouldn’t really be that entertaining. The high point of you is the song ‘True Affection’, the idea that you can provide an electronic moment to an extremely personal sentiment in a landscape of acoustic ballads. I couldn’t even begin to dissect that thing – it’s completely out of nowhere and shimmy and shakes with the best of them. I think the best part about it, and most songs on this record is the way the harmonies and vocals are intricately layered and not just for effect – every single vocal part has a purpose. It’s something that not many folks get right, but you do so well. There’s not many songs I wish I’d written, but that is definitely one of them.

Long story short, I love you because you’re honest, and you’re complicated but direct. You threw me initially but I grew to understand and appreciate and learn from you. In a world where everything is so immediate you stood out and continue to stand out as something to be held onto, something to allow yourself to feel challenged by but learn to love.

Also, ‘I Went To The Store One Day’ is one of the most amazing modern love stories of all time – why? Because it’s just a sincere note about normal every day life made beautiful, and in this world I think we need a little more of that.

Thank you,

I love you,

I Love You, Honey Bear.

Royal & The Southern Echo’s debut EP ‘Correspondence’ is out now.

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