Surprised By The Joy

Album: Natural Rebel (2018)
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Songfacts®:

  • Here, Richard Ashcroft describes the joyful feelings of being free of the fear and anxiety of the modern world.

    Surprised by the joy of this
    Goodbye to the loneliness
    I'm surprised by the joy of this
    Say hello to the world again


    Ashcroft explained to The Sun that both fear and anxiety "are very potent emotions" which can hold people back to the extent that you don't leave your home.

    He added: "I want to say, 'Hey, I've been there too, we've all been there.' But when you finally start coming out of it, it's a beautiful feeling I wanted to put it down on record. That's the release. That is the moment when you are free. That song is a journey."
  • The album title comes from a line in this song:

    A natural rebel, here I am
    But some of you won't understand
  • Ashcroft's lyrics can come off as cynical and pessimistic, but that's his way of expressing pain and struggle, a key step in finding the answers. This song finds him on the other side of the struggle, which was a long time coming. Fame, fortune and fatherhood brought new pleasures, but also new challenges.

    In discussing "Surprised By The Joy" with Songfacts, he talked about getting to that place of equanimity. "It's difficult, man, because I believe the best possible way is to be more honest with people, like I do in interviews," he said. "I was trying to straddle the whole damn thing. This is something that carries on, because once you're into family, that's the whole thing."

    Ashcroft added that living in the analog world is a big help. "I like messing around taking photographs and digital stuff, but if I can go for a walk by a channel of water in the countryside and be tactile with nature, I find that creatively more rewarding than digital creativity. On this record I wanted to let the songs lead the narrative, not sonic gimmicks. I just wanted really good melodies, strong lyrics, heavy stuff, uplifting messages. It's hard to do a record with no real agenda, but that's what happened. I came down into my cellar, I turned on the LinnDrum machine, I got some chords, got some scraps of songs that I had, and just let it flow to see what pieced together."
  • Ashcroft directed the video himself. His wife, Kate Radley, appears in the beach scenes at the end.

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