Philomena

Album: What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Decemberists vocalist Colin Meloy imploring the titular lady to "let him go down, down, down." Melroy wrote the track before the film of the same name came out. He told The Sun: "It's a fictional name. I'd written it, and then, a short while later, I thought it was ruined forever because of the Judi Dench movie."

    "But I thought I would just go with it anyway. It's sort of about sexual fumbling and bumbling."
  • The song features a retro Phil Spector's sound. Melroy told The Sun: "I wanted to build arrangements for two backing vocalists and it just seemed like the kind of tongue in cheek, over the top song that you could kind of give a Spector approach and still have a song survive."
  • Melroy's chief inspiration was Leonard Cohen, who got Phil Spector to produce his 1977 album Death of a Ladies Man. "I was on a Leonard Cohen kick," he said. "I had the idea of using backing vocalists and having them being an element that ties things together as well as using strings."

    "Then it became more of a big pop sound, which I think sits well with some of our earlier stuff."

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