Stonecatcher

Album: Self-Titled (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • As the successful frontman of the big-selling indie-folk outfit Mumford & Sons, Marcus Mumford appeared to have the world at his feet. Behind the scenes, however, Mumford was self-medicating with alcohol and food to cope with the shame he felt from being abused as a child.

    By the summer of 2019, some of his friends were getting concerned about the singer. They intervened, prompting Mumford to seek counsel from people like Bryan Stevenson, founder of the human rights organization Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson's work on childhood trauma and forgiveness directly inspired this delicate, stripped-back number.
  • All we can hope is that we suffer well
    When the cycle ends, when this tales detail
    When it reaches me
    Let me be a stone catcher, please


    The Gospel of John 8 v7 recounts Jesus criticizing the Jewish religious leaders who wanted to pass judgment on an adulterous woman.

    "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

    In his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Stevenson references the biblical lesson on hypocrisy and forgiveness. He tells of a woman who felt she needed to be in court to catch the stones while judges throw "people away like they're not even human, people shooting each other, hurting each other like they don't care." When he chuckled at the woman's invocation of Jesus' teaching, she told him, "I heard you in that courtroom today. I've even seen you here a couple of times before. I know you's a stonecatcher, too."
  • Mumford's friend, Phoebe Bridgers, provided backing vocals. "I asked her whether she'd be down to come and hear something and whether she wanted to sing on it," he told NME, "I played her where 'Stonecatcher' was at and she goes, 'Dude, did you get the word 'heinous' into a song?' I said, 'Yes'. She was like, 'I'll sing on it!'"
  • Mumford wrote "Stonecatcher" with the song's producer, Blake Mills. The pair also play most of the instruments, with Mumford on Wurlitzer electric piano, guitar and acoustic guitar; Mills on guitar and synthesizer. Bryan Stevenson reveals his musical talents by playing the piano; Jim Keltner contributes drums, and Rob Moose, strings.

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