The release of American singer–songwriter Sharon Van Etten's 2010 sophomore album Epic
coincided with a difficult break-up of a relationship. She busied herself with touring for the record, but when the singer completed her schedule a year later, she found herself homeless in New York. After a period of sleeping on friends' couches, recovering from her heavy touring schedule, Van Etten hooked up the National's guitarist Aaron Dessner to record her third album, The Tramp
. She told Spinner
that that title is her own private joke about her experiences over the previous two years. Explained Van Etten: "When you think of it, I'm a total goofball. I'm a Charlie Chaplin tramp. As far as being homeless, I was a tramp. With touring, I was tramping around. I looked up the word when I was considering it for the album title and the original definition is 'to be homeless.' Either in New Zealand or Australia, it means 'to camp' and 'to travel.' I'm a total physical comic like Charlie Chaplin, and because I write about love and it's about more than one person, I think people would laugh at the word 'tramp.' It's my own quiet joke. I feel like when a man is called 'tramp' it's more endearing than calling a woman a tramp. I decided to kind of own it a little bit."