The Singer Addresses His Audience

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

Songfacts®:

  • The opening track of What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, this song derisively portrays a singer trapped in his creation by his fans, despite his desire to evolve. It's followed later on the album by "Anti-Summersong," which finds vocalist Colin Melroy referencing previous Decemberists tunes. "Those two songs were very self-reflexive," Meloy told The Guardian. "It was right after we'd finished touring and I was feeling almost embittered, and wanting to make those kind of statements. It felt therapeutic to me. The songs were about songs, about songwriting."
  • Colin Melroy was asked by American Songwriter magazine what he was thinking of when he penned this song. He replied: "I'm sort of sheepish to say that that's me in that song because in my mind it isn't me. I feel like I'm writing from the perspective of someone who isn't me, but maybe a bolder version of myself."

    "In my head, it was the singer of a boy band who has only ever known celebrity. How do you square with your relationship with your audience? There is kind of a weird captive ownership. Everything you do, really, you have to do in the name of your audience," Melroy continued. "I feel like that's a relationship that every musician or performer has with their audience, but I think in that case it's one that has gone too far and he feels like he's too much in the ownership of his audience. And yet that's all he ever wanted, was to belong to somebody. I feel like he's sort of a tragic character."

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