Beautiful Life

Album: The Misfit (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • Rhett Miller sings about starting a beautiful life with the girl he has his eye on, while she's unaware of the future he's planning for them. It comes off a little creepy, but it didn't start out that way.

    Long before it ended up on his solo album The Misfit, Miller wrote a much different iteration while he watched young Brooklynites frolic in a park on a spring day. At first, he felt like it needed to be a big exuberant pop song, but when he recorded it that way with his band, the Old 97's, it fell flat. It didn't make the cut on their 2017 album, Graveyard Whistling, so Miller shelved it for a few years.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he finally introduced it to fans during his online shows to rave reviews. But when it came time to record it for his solo album, producer Sam Cohen had other ideas.

    "I tried it a lot of different ways but it wasn't until I brought it into Sam Cohen and he said, 'You know what this song needs? It needs to be a lot creepier, scarier, more brooding.' I had already decided I was going to do the improv rules with Sam. I was going to say yes, so I followed him down this road," Miller recalled in a 2022 Songfacts interview.

    As they revamped the track, they looked to Lou Reed's 1972 song "Perfect Day" for inspiration. "We sat and listened to that song and dissected what Lou Reed did in that song that made it so good, and identified that there was something creepy about it, and that there was a ton of space in it," he continued. "I think it was because of that song that Sam gravitated towards the giant piano chords that wind up punctuating the production of 'Beautiful Life.'"
  • The Misfit is Miller's ninth solo album. His first, Mythologies, was released in 1989, three years before he became the lead singer of Old 97's.

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