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Arcade Fire’s Will Butler To Write A Song A Day About A Guardian News Story

Will

Will

Arcade Fire’s Will Butler has started a solo career and already released an album entitled ‘Policy’, which was recorded in the legendary ‘Electric Lady’ New York studio, but, of course, the album didn’t get much exposure compared to an Arcade Fire release. According to the author himself, ‘Policy’ was ‘100% serious and 100% joking’, which not only shows how Will is bad at math but also how confused he is about his art? Or may be not. ‘My goal in art is to be like Moby-Dick”, he said to the Guardian while talking about his expectation when he read the famous novel. ‘But the first 100 pages are literally slapstick comedy and jokes about whale penises. Even something like Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground is written in a really ironic style. The narrator is self-consciously pathetic but really angry at the world, but also making jokes.’

Serious or funny, Will Butler needed some new inspiration beside the classics. May be his life was too quiet to provide new material, may be he wanted to try something new, but in any case, Arcade Fire’s little brother has announced he will write a song a day based upon a news story in the Guardian! This will happen for a full week, starting February 23rd , and obviously, the Guardian will have the exclusivity of each track.

‘It was partly inspired by Bob Dylan, who used to announce that certain songs were based on headlines,’ explained Butler. ‘It would be a song he wrote in two weeks or something, such as The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, which is one of the greatest songs ever. So I’ve set myself an impossible bar.’ Sure, right away, by pronouncing Dylan’s name, Butler is shooting himself in the foot, isn’t it what every young songwriter wants to avoid, being compared to Dylan? I was listening to a Conor Oberst interview and he precisely was alluding to this!

But why choosing the Guardian out of all the media available? It’s simple, Will is a reader,… of the Guardian

‘I’ve been reading the Guardian every day, perusing the different sections. Some of them possibly lend themselves to songs. It’s a cruel thing, but sometimes you read something and think, ‘Uh oh. I could make something really meaty out of that.’ Something like the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial – my God, that’s the gnarliest story in the world, but it’s interesting. Or you might read a science headline and think, ‘The universe is so much bigger than I thought it was.’ There’s something really beautiful in that.’

I can’t wait to hear a science song, because it’s not an easy thing to do, it can easily turn into something a bit cheesy or caricatural. But it can be done. Butler is an optimistic despite throwing out some conflicted ideas when he talked to the Guardian:

‘We invented the polio vaccine, we’ve largely eliminated slavery. I have a lot of sympathy for the doom and gloom types: ‘The globe is swarming and people are killing each other and nobody’s doing anything and it will all end poorly!’ On the other hand, I can’t help but think, ‘But we have online shopping and next-day delivery.’ I’m naturally hopeful that we’re slowly [making] things better.’

I just wonder what subjects he will pick, it’s difficult to be optimistic about another ISIS beheading. Take any headlines on the Guardian website today, ‘South Sudan gunmen kidnap at least 89 boys from village near Malakal’, ’14-year-old Palestinian jailed for stone-throwing maintains innocence’ ‘Jewish magazine in Germany to be delivered in plain envelopes’ … ouch! aren’t the news generally about terrible events, like wars, crimes and other horrors?

Whatever Will Butler’s intentions are, just looking pretentious or starting some sibling rivalry, there is no doubt that headlines or everyday events can be inspirational, but obliging yourself to produce a song off this daily mess seems like forcing the inspiration to me, and giving yourself homework to do. Nevertheless, I will check Will’s songs every day…

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