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Father John Misty’s ‘Pure Comedy’ Explains The Current State Of Humanity In 6 Minutes And Half


Father John Misty


You never know whether Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, is having a serious discussion about the tragedy and the despair of the human condition, or joking around, you never know whether he doesn’t give a shit or is the most empathic person in the world. There’s still a lot of mystery attached to everything he does and for this, he is an interesting character who works very hard on his rock & roll star image.

A few days ago, he dropped a new song, ‘Pure Comedy’, the title track of his upcoming third album, and the video seems to be reflecting our very confused and decadent times. The result is so ambitious and so epic, it looks as if Father John Misty wanted to sum up the entire history and condition of humanity through its numerous myths and other fake news in six minutes and half.

It is a song where Misty sort of forgets the melody, the focus is on the lyrics, and the tune is a wordy meditation on piano, beginning in the same style than ‘Bored in the USA’, although it never really goes into some truly memorable chorus. Instead we get this soulful saxophone and notes punctuating his successive thoughts.

Politics, religions, cute animals, sports, tragedies, plenty of Trump footage and what it seems to be random images (although nothing is probably totally random) blends with cartoons that look like the grotesque visions of medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch illustrating Dante’s divine comedy.

Should we take anything like this seriously? Should we cry or laugh? It’s a comedy after all, but a very dark one. The flow of lyrics is as dense as it has ever been on a Father John Misty’s song, Tillman gets philosophical and political as he basically covers everything related to the human condition, from the miracle of birth (‘The comedy of man starts like this/
Our brains are way too big for our mothers’ hips’) to the meat-eater ethical question (‘Like, say, that half of us are periodically iron deficient
/So somebody’s got to go kill something while I look after the kids’), from religions (and he has a lot to say about religions: ‘They worship themselves yet they’re totally obsessed
/With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits’… ‘And they get terribly upset
/When you question their sacred texts
/Written by woman-hating epileptics’) to the recent elections (‘What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?/These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods/So they can go on being godless animals’)…. or doom day and destruction (‘Until there’s nothing human left/Just random matter suspended in the dark’)… There’s even much more and it can get hilarious if you despise religions and politics.

I never understood how Tillman manages to be ironic and sincere, pretentious and caring at the same time, but he gets away with it every time. ‘I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got’ is the last line of the song and he has never sounded so inspired and inspiring. It’s good to see Josh Tillman despise so much Trump, politics and religions, but he does it from a full distance, as if he was looking at earth from space, as the last images would let us think, like the only entity surviving the apocalypse. May be he believes he is god after all.

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