By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
That was old before I even heard it. After making Cripple Crow, I sat once at the offices of Beggar’s for 12 hours doing interviews, and they’d bring people in, and every person for every interview would say, “Hey, by the way” – with the tape machine off – “you know, I’m the one that coined 'freak folk,’ I’m the one who made that up.” All proud of himself. And I just thought it was hilarious.
Especially when they mention, say, Joanna Newsom as being some variation of such a tacky label, whatever they call it – “Weird America,” all these very, very inaccurate and tacky labels -- when they’d refer to her like that, I would get angry with that. But I also would always say that you’ll see by her next record, and if not, by her third record, it’ll be gone, and she’ll just be Joanna Newsom. ‘Cause that’s what she is. She’s Joanna Newsom. I mean, Joni Mitchell’s Joni Mitchell, she makes Joni Mitchell music. Joanna Newsom should be under the “Joanna Newsom” section.
Smokey’s last song in particular, “My Dearest Friend,” with its theme underlying or overt of loneliness, is very touching. So simple, so beautiful. I was just thinking that you shouldn’t need to feel loneliness, in a way, since anyone hearing that song will carry you in their hearts for as long as they remember that song.
From a songwriting perspective, there is an interesting thing about that last song. The beginning, “I’m gonna die of loneliness, I know,” that was written in Brooklyn in the wintertime, and the song ended with “I know.” That’s it, that was the song. And we still hadn’t moved to California and begun our search for the house and hidden pieces of equipment that we ended up using for this record. So for a whole while I was like, I’ve got a basis for this song, and it’s sort of a bummer; there’s no hope in it, but this is how it is, I’m not just gonna tack on “no no” or something, you know? I had to be true to how it is in the real world, that’s how it goes, that was the song.
And then once we moved into this house in Topanga and had begun building the studio, and finding the parts and writing the record, the end came. Suddenly I heard the music and the lyrics, and this other voice, “My dearest friend/you’ll soon begin/to love again.”
And the hope came, and it fit right in at the end. That was one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had writing a song.
I’ll let you go now, Devendra. Thank you.
I’m so envious that you’re in Los Angeles. I love, I love California. I love L.A.
Devendra Banhart performs at the Orpheum Theatre, Saturday, October 13 with Hecuba.
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