Kyoto

Songfacts®:

  • Titled after the Japanese city of Kyoto, Phoebe Bridgers wrote this wistful, brass-flecked tune after her first trip to Japan. Speaking about the song's backstory, she explained it's about impostor syndrome. "[it's] about being in Japan for the first time, somewhere I've always wanted to go, and playing my music to people who want to hear it, feeling like I'm living someone else's life," Bridgers said.
  • After originally writing "Kyoto" as a ballad, Bridgers decided she was tired of recording slow songs, so she turned it into a fuzzy, guitar-riffed folk rocker.
  • Phoebe Bridgers delivered a unique quarantine rendition of the track from her bathroom on the April 9, 2020 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Dubbed by the host, "Phoebe Bridgers live from the lavatory," the pyjama-clad songstress performed the tune in her tub, singing into a children's microphone taped to the stand while playing a synthesizer resting on her lap.
  • Phoebe Bridgers' father was a carpenter who built sets for film and television. According to an interview with GQ, he was abusive and had a "drug thing." When he divorced her mom when Phoebe was 20 it left the singer feeling angry.

    This song about their complicated, evolving relationship finds Bridgers fielding payphone calls from her father during her 2019 visit to Japan.
  • You called me from a payphone
    They still got pay phones
    It cost a dollar a minute
    To tell me you're getting sober
    And you wrote me a letter
    But I don't have to read it


    The lyric observing that Japan "still" has pay phones was made up by Bridgers. She told American Songwriter it was inspired by a This American Life episode where they reference a payphone in Japan right by where the 2011 tsunami happened. "People can come and talk to their deceased loved ones," she explained. "That stuck in my head."

    However, when Bridgers started doing Japanese phone interviews to promote the single release, someone told her, "You know, we do have payphones! They're old and gross, but it's funny that you noticed that." The singer thought to herself, "Woah, I guess they do still have them."

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