Phoenix

Album: How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? (2021)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Phoenix" was one of the last songs that Big Red Machine's Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon wrote for How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? Vernon first heard Dessner's original sketch of the song while driving and immediately the chorus melody came into his head.

    Dessner forwarded the work in progress to Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold, who agreed to write and sing the song's verses and pre-chorus. He came up with a series of questions where he asks Vernon how he moves through this world. His dialogue recalled the one time Pecknold and Vernon had met to date: by a loading bay in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Vernon's vocals and the chorus were already in place when Pecknold received the demo. According to Pecknold, Dessner's instructions were to "just to record whatever my impulse was." He felt his job was to build up towards Vernon's entrance. "So I was having to write to set up his chorus," Pecknold told Uncut magazine. "I'd never done that before, and it was really fun."

    His solution was to offer a lot of questions. "And then his answer would be the chorus, this bleak wisdom."
  • Longtime Justin Vernon collaborator, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, re-wrote the chorus lyrics, making them more like a response to Pecknold. She also adds her voice to the Bon Iver frontman's on the hook.

    Mitchell first worked with Vernon when she tapped him to sing on her 2010 album, Hadestown. She later opened the North American leg of Bon Iver's autumn 2012 tour.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A Timeline

"Stairway To Heaven" Lawsuit: A TimelineSong Writing

Untangling the events that led to the "Stairway To Heaven" lawsuit.

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"They're Playing My Song

Chris and his wife Tina were the rhythm section for Talking Heads when they formed The Tom Tom Club. "Genius of Love" was their blockbuster, but David Byrne only mentioned it once.

Don Brewer of Grand Funk

Don Brewer of Grand FunkSongwriter Interviews

The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.