Father John Misty: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings (Video)

Aubrey Plaza is one of those actresses that has a pretty intense following. And I fit that mold; she is among my favorite actresses thanks to her roles in Parks & Rec and Safety Not Guaranteed.

Plaza stars in the video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” by Father John Misty. Emotional and destructive, she does what she does best: tempt the viewer, lure them in and steal their heart.

And what about Father John Misty? After all, this blog is about music, right?

Father John Misty

The man, J. Tillman, who has formerly recorded under his own name as well as enjoying the ranks of Fleet Foxes, produced the pinnacle of his solo career in terms of notoriety, volume and songwriting prowess with last year’s Fear Fun (an album I am truly kicking myself for ignoring until now).

“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” finds an interesting and seemingly middle ground between fellow Sub Pop artists; one part Fleet Foxes and another the male counterpart to Sera Cahoone.

But this is J. Tillman we’re talking about, a man who can craft a damn great song. And his process of developing Father John Misty is one that will help you understand why he went from using his own name to recording under a new one. There is reason here, a mental anguish we common folk who follow societal norms always seem to want to shun, yet we too get enveloped in our own mental demons…the creative individual is always a bit more bold about such experiences.

In his Sub Pop bio, Tillman explains:

“I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about… I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.”

He continues, but I’ll leave it at that and make note that to really, truly understand the transformation, you need to read the bio penned by Paula Zabrey. It’s well worth your time. Then watch the video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” below and you’ll get a possible glimpse into its meaning.

The questions then become: Is Plaza playing Tillman’s mental state during this period of transition? Is her pseudo demise the monkey he notes being “banished off (his) back?” Or is it just a “weird-ass” song about “weird ass experiences” conjured up by his self-described “morbid sense of humor?”

The answer may have already been written, or maybe it hasn’t. I haven’t taken the time to find out because I would rather speculate and come up with my own conclusion at this point. And, ultimately, hear your take on it as well.

As previously alluded to, Father John Misty’s Fear Fun came out last year on Sub Pop. Also below, sample “Nancy From Now On” off the album, then go buy the damn LP already.

Above photo by Maximilla Lukacs.

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