America

Album: Californian Soil (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • By the time London Grammar started writing songs for their third album, frontwoman Hannah Reid was in a bad frame of mind. Despite the success of their first two albums, the naturally shy singer was struggling with the fallout from fame. In addition, unpleasant experiences with misogyny and health issues meant she wondered if she was cut out for the music industry. This song, which Reid wrote at her piano, was the first she penned for California Soil. "I cried when I wrote it and it was the first step in a really cathartic experience," she said.
  • The stripped-back song finds Reid letting go of the past. "I'm using the idea of the American dream to describe something I was going through. I had the experience like many people do of getting caught up in a bit of a whirlwind when maybe the band first had a bit of success," she explained to American Songwriter. "There aren't really many mentors around, so I got lost and I couldn't cope with the pressure very well."
  • Reid remembered thinking she would play the song for her bandmates Dan Rothman and Dot Major, but at the time she doubted if she could make another album. "I played it to the boys and then, sure enough, they played me something," she told Apple Music, after which the idea evolved into the first track they recorded for California Soil. "I think it was quite emotional for [Dan Rothman and Dot Major] to hear that song," she said. "But what is really amazing is that I just felt like we turned that into something kind of beautiful. And so we turned it into something really positive."
  • The song starts off with cricket noises. Reid described the sound of the crickets as "so emotive, because everyone has experienced that, when you're outside in a beautiful place and there are crickets singing to you."
  • London Grammar's longtime visual collaborator, Dave Bullivant, directed the video. It sees Hannah Reid sitting alone at a bar in a classic American diner, surrounded by blurred faces.

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