Sunblind

Album: Shore (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold paying tribute to musical heroes who have passed away, many of whom died far too soon. They include Elliott Smith, Arthur Russell, Nick Drake, Otis Redding, Jeff Buckley, Curtis Mayfield, and Jimi Hendrix.
  • The song title appears in the third verse when Pecknold references how the music of his dearly departed heroes have helped him in his life.

    And in your rarified air I feel sunblind
    I'm looking up at you there high in my mind
    Only way that I made it for a long time


    Pecknold explained to EW: "I wanted to make a song that celebrated my heroes in an explicit way - people who have passed and who I want to honor in the music. That was a big focus of mine, helping them stay alive through these memories. Music is this weird invisible form of immortality for these people, and I wanted to do it in a joyous way and reframe some of the sorrow of loss into a kind of celebration."
  • The song is the first full-length track on Shore and the anchor that ties all the tracks together. However, it was actually the last tune to be completed, and was recorded only a few weeks prior to the album's release.

    Robin Pecknold had been toiling away on Shore since 2018. He wasn't happy with the lyrics and brooded on the problem for months; then during lockdown, inspiration came to him. He knew he wanted to write a kind of mission statement for the record, and he explained to Uncut magazine how he found a way of doing that.

    "The song has musical echoes of some of the names mentioned like a beat Richard Swift would like or an Elliott Smith vocal treatment on a bridge over a piano part that maybe Bill Withers would do. Once the recited list of names were there - the realization, if you like – there was a real relationship between the words and the music. That made the rest of the record makes sense to me in a way that it hadn't really been before.
  • The track opens with the line, "For Richard Swift," referring to the American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who died in 2018 aged 41 as a result of alcohol-related illness. Swift was a friend of Pecknold, though the pair had not seen one another for several years. Asked by The Guardian if he was shocked by Swift's death, Pecknold replied:

    "I think everyone knew that he'd been struggling for a little while, and I was shocked, maybe more so than people who were closer to him, but yeah... He was in the family, and everyone knew Richard and loved Richard."
  • Sean Pecknold, the elder brother of Robin Pecknold, directed the video. It shares glimpses of the two years of recording sessions for Shore, which took place between September 2018 and September 2020.

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