The dialectic of being stuck, not lost, not found, in the middle of both hope and despair, regret and longing, and ultimately what this song and this album so beautifully rings - losing yourself in the chorus. Thank you for sharing with us.
Favorite track: Marina Karaoke (Año Viejo Benediction).
Just before putting this record to tape. I woke up at five am, in our Brooklyn apartment with a vision in my head of The Hanged Man; card 12 in the Tarot. The image was so strong that I got out and found my wife's deck of Tarot cards. Out of 78 cards, I pulled The Hanged Man- a figure I was only vaguely aware of at the time.
I had become interested in the Tarot a few months earlier, while working on an episode of The Secret Lair- my monthly subscription songbook and audio essay that existed from January 2016-May 2018. The Secret Lair was born out of necessity when all of my relationships and gains in the music industry all severed and fell apart in November of 2015 after touring my last record. I was back at square one- recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, newly married, and feeling lost and restless and unsure of my creative capacities. So, I started with what I knew, writing songs, recording them badly, and reading books no one else wanted to read. I asked my small group of supporters for $3 a month from each subscriber and ended up with about 40 hours of content and enough money to keep the lights on for that two and a half year period.
As I meditated on The Hanged Man, I realized that I was him. I was floating in suspension- stuck; stuck in a career rut; living in a political wasteland; stuck in New York- too old to live a life of youthful hedonism in Bushwick and not established enough to afford a BAM membership. I realized that these songs are all about characters who are also stuck. The ghost in Prospect Heights who can't pass on. The musician who feels the pressure from a new baby to give up his career. The karaoke singer stuck between past regret and future healing. The couple suspended in traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge wondering if their love would survive the siren call of the City. The hyperbolic artist unsure if there's anything original worth saying anymore. These are floating songs.
Something that's true about The Hanged Man however is that he can think and plan. If you look at a traditional Tarot deck, he's suspended by his foot from the Tree of Life. Not only does he have a halo around his head, but he's smiling. Why is he smiling? Because he sees a brief glimpse of The Vision- the interconnection of all life- the ever balancing game of temporal nature- the ceaseless mutation of forms composed of indestructible substances- Maya. More importantly, he sees his plan. His inability to act is actually his greatest asset. It focuses his mind. It sharpens his will. He is smiling because he knows exactly how he will lay out his blueprint as soon as he is untethered. The Hanged Man is the hero we need for our modern age. The are the days for inwardness. The full fruition will come. Right now, we grow sharp. We sketch our plans. We meditate with the knowledge of the full weight of responsibility we will have as soon as it's time to stop thinking and start acting, and when it's time to act, another hero will arise and show us.
How does The Hanged Man gain transcendence? Simple. Turn the card upside down. Now he's The Floating Man, and he's carrying the whole world with him, tethered to his ankle as he ascends, aimless, upward into the sky.
My son was born two weeks after this vision of The Hanged Man and the completion of tracking this record. Six months later we moved out of our tiny Brooklyn apartment into an old house in East Atlanta- plenty big enough for all of us and my books too (and my first proper home studio). He and his mother recently came on the road with the pop-rock duo that I front (The Midnight) and I'm happy to report that he sleeps great in a tour bus. He turns one next week, and I can hear him waking up from his first nap of the day.
In the first act there was boredom and longing
In the second act there was freedom and longing
In the third act, you learn what the longing was for
May 2019 Atlanta, Georgia
released May 14, 2019
Todd Caldwell - organ
Mike Cervantes - mastering
Russell Durham - strings
Will Hensley - pedal steel
Cole Kamen-Green - trumpet
Anthony Lamarca - drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Tyler Lyle - producer, vocals, acoustic guitar
Christopher McDonald - engineer, piano, juno
Jeremy McDonald - producer, mixing, engineer, bass, piano, percussion, juno, acoustic guitar
Molly Parden - vocals
Chris Parker - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums
Alec Spiegelman - saxophone
Produced by Jeremy McDonald and Tyler Lyle
Engineered by Christopher McDonald and Jeremy McDonald
Mixed by Jeremy McDonald
Mastered by Mike Cervantes at The Foxboro
Hannah & Adem B.
Willem v E.
Mary Kathrine R.