Opus 40

Album: Deserter's Songs (1998)
Charted: 31


  • This song is named after Opus 40, a large environmental sculpture located in Saugerties, New York, created by sculptor and quarryman Harvey Fite (1903-1976). Keyboardist Adam Snyder recalled to Uncut in 2015: "I remember Jon (Donahue,vocals) and I were sitting in a room in Kingston, which is like the gateway to the Catskills. I started tinkering around with a Wurlitzer, and that's how 'Opus 40' was born."

    Guitarist Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak added: "Opus 40 is a place here in the Catskills - Jonathan grew up around here, so that was a place that he used to go to, hang out there in the sculpted rocks of the bluestone. All the bricks of the Empire State Building and most of the Lower East Side came from this brick company that was here in Kingston."
  • Jonathan Donahue's lyrics quote from Bruce Springsteen ("Woke up and climbed from the suicide machine") and The Doors ("I'm alive," she cried, but I don't know what it means").
  • This was released as the third single from Deserter's Songs. British music magazine NME named the LP their album of the year for 1998.
  • Levon Helm was the drummer on this song. His fellow Band member Garth Hudson guested on another Deserter's Songs track, "Hudson Line."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Producer Ron Nevison

Producer Ron NevisonSong Writing

Ron Nevison explains in very clear terms the Quadrophenia concept and how Heart staged their resurgence after being dropped by their record company.

Black Sabbath

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Victoria Williams

Victoria WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

Despite appearances on Carson, Leno and a Pennebaker film, Williams remains a hidden treasure.

Daryl Hall

Daryl HallSongwriter Interviews

Daryl Hall's TV show is a hit, and he's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - only one of these developments excites him.

Edwin McCain

Edwin McCainSongwriter Interviews

"I'll Be" was what Edwin called his "Hail Mary" song. He says it proves "intention of the songwriter is 180 degrees from potential interpretation by an audience."

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & FireSongwriter Interviews

The longtime bassist of Earth, Wind & Fire discusses how his band came to do a holiday album, and offers insight into some of the greatest dance/soul tunes of all-time.