Album: Punisher (2020)
Play Video


  • 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 pajama-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."

Comments: 1

  • Tavi from IdahoI live with Phoebe’s father, her mother told Phoebe and Jackson that he was doing drugs, those drugs were opioids that he had, and still does, take because of a motorcycle accident he got in now 17 years ago.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-Outs

Goodbye, Hello: Ten Farewell Tour Fake-OutsSong Writing

The 10 biggest "retirement tours" that didn't take.

Randy Houser

Randy HouserSongwriter Interviews

The "How Country Feels" singer talks Skynyrd and songwriting.

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock Photography

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock PhotographySong Writing

One of rock's top photographers talks about artistry in photography, raising funds for a documentary, and enjoying a County Fair with Tom Waits.

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

80s Music Quiz 1

80s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

MTV, a popular TV theme song and Madonna all show up in this '80s music quiz.

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal Tap

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal TapSong Writing

Based on criteria like girlfriend tension, stage mishaps and drummer turnover, these are the 10 bands most like Spinal Tap.