XPN’s Gotta Hear Songs of the Week: “Sisyphus” and “Bloodless” by Andrew Bird

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Andrew Bird | photo by Amanda Demme | courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and whistler Andrew Bird releases his finest work yet, My Finest Work Yet, on March 22nd. With violin as is his primary instrument, his finest work yet is the followup to 2017’s Echolocations: River, the second in a series of records he made primarily using field recordings.

Bird went to the same high school as author Dave Eggers. Two years apart, they were both inspired by an English teacher at the school, and after many years they finally met, and according to Bird, “had some good talks.” In this conversation, Bird talks at length about the new record, religion, and his the creative process.

About “Bloodless,” Bird says:

I wrote “Bloodless” after the 2016 election. I’m sure you feel this way, when anyone says you have a duty to do something, you bristle a little bit at the idea. And you hear a lot of people saying we all need to speak out. And, of course, that makes a lot of sense, but it took me a while to step back and say, “What can I say that’s going to be helpful?” And I feel like if I’m going to contribute to anything, it should be coming from some perspective that we haven’t thought about. And that’s where “Bloodless” came from.

Bird says “Sisyphus” is “about being addicted to your own suffering. Sisyphus was punished by Zeus for trying to outsmart the gods and cheat death,” Bird continues. “He was sentenced to an eternity of pushing a rock up a hill only to have it roll back down every time he reached the top. I’m happiest when I’m struggling up a literal or figurative hill. Sometimes I stop and say, “What’s the collateral damage of this inclination? And the moral consequences of abandoning this eternal task? Maybe the rock’s going to roll down and hurt somebody.”

Bird says in the lyric “to fail like a mortal” is “to give up on immortality in favor of friends and family community. Harmony and happiness instead of tortured godliness.”

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