Alaska

Album: Now That the Light Is Fading (2016)
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Songfacts®:

  • Maggie Rogers wrote this track in 15 minutes, inspired by a hiking expedition she took to Alaska in 2013 while she was a student at NYU. She felt a sense of perspective after visiting the state that was eye-opening. "It's just overwhelming the size and the grandeur, but it does the most graceful job of making you feel so perfectly small," she explained in the documentary Back In My Body. "When things are that big, it makes you want to do the things you love."
  • Rogers got her big break when she played her demo of the song to Pharrell Williams during a masterclass with students at NYU in March 2016. The producer was visibly moved and compared the tune to a "drug" for its skillful musical fusion. A video documenting the masterclass emerged in June and turned Rogers into a viral music phenomenon, earning her a record deal with Capitol, which released the track as her first single.

    "I kind of blacked out to be completely honest," Rogers told NME of listening to her song with Pharrell. "It was really weird. I felt like I was showing my homework. It was very uncomfortable listening to my music in front of my peers, then you add a camera crew and one of the most powerful music influencers. I pretty much picked a spot on the floor and stared at it. I saw his foot tapping and felt my classmates moving, but I didn't really know what was happening or how excited he was until I saw the video... and I've only really seen it once. We're not in touch; That was my whole interaction with him."
  • The song opens with the lyric :

    I was walking through icy streams
    That took my breath away
    Moving slowly through westward water
    Over glacial plains


    Rogers explained to Genius:
    "We had to get up really early to cross this river because it had been really warm in Alaska that summer and so the glaciers were melting at a faster pace than we had expected. So you have to like wake up when the sun is at its lowest because then the river will be at its lowest also. So I was picturing being in this icy glacial runoff water in the morning and thinking about how difficult that was. And how strange that was and how hard that was, and yet, how important that was for me to find some of my own clarity within everything else that was happening in my life."
  • Alaska is the largest state in the USA and one of the least populated. It has just 1.20 people for every square mile. Here are some more songs inspired by USA's northern most state:

    "Oh, What A Life" by American Authors (The song's imagery was partly based around summiting Mount McKinley in Alaska.)

    "Juneau" by Funeral For a Friend (The song is named after the capital city of Alaska, because "it's a cold, harsh, unforgiving country.")

    "Don't Be Denied" by Norah Jones (When covering the Neil Young song, Jones changed a lyric from "Winnipeg" to "Anchorage," in accordance with a childhood journey she made from Texas to Alaska and back with her mother.)
  • Want some Alaska fun facts? Here's some courtesy of The Encyclopedia of Trivia:

    The name Alaska came from a native American word meaning "object to which the action of the sea is directed."

    The United States purchased Alaska for $7.2 million or about 2 cents an acre on March 30, 1867. It became an organized (or incorporated) territory on May 11, 1912, and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.

    Alaska is so big, you could fit 75 New Jerseys in it.

    Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other US states combined.

    "Alaska" is the only state that can be typed using only one row on a computer keyboard.

    In Alaska, there are laws against pushing a moose from a plane, viewing a moose from a plane, and giving a moose beer.

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