Artist Spotlight: Father John Misty

By Braxton Randolph

Father John Misty is an American Treasure.

As a writer, I am inspired by few people. I draw most of my inspiration from writers in the music industry because books are for nerds and because I stopped believing in TV shows and movies about 3 years ago (really when The Office stopped airing). Along with the fact that I’m not big on the sci-fi/fantasy genre in the slightest (because that seems to be all the rage now, i.e. Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, etc), I have felt as if nothing in TV is genuine anymore, and that everything feels like I’ve heard it or seen it somewhere before. Recently though, I’ve been able to draw inspiration from Donald Glover and his team of writers on FX’s Atlanta. Their execution of normalizing African Americans through real life situations has given me hope for the future of TV.

Back to the topic at hand, like I mentioned previously, most of my inspiration comes from writers in the music industry such as Frank Ocean, James Blake and Father John Misty. For me, something that these guys, and especially Father John, all have in common is that no matter what they’re writing, it’s raw and comes from the heart. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the artist formerly known as J. Tillman explains how he went into the process of making his second album, titled I Love You, Honeybear, under the moniker Father John Misty:

Yes, the idea of writing about love is unoriginal and has been done before, but how can the substance be unoriginal if it’s your personal experience? For me, this has always been the difference between what can be good writing versus great. It’s always been more about how the story is written, rather than what it’s exactly about. 

As a young black man, I represent one of the 7 Father John Misty fans that look like me. All joking (not really) aside, this guy is talented at what he does and does it in the most badass way possible. I first found out about Father John Misty from an episode of Netflix’s Master of None, and was immediately intrigued. He performed “Chateau Lobby #4,” which is a lyrical ode to the beginning of his relationship with his now-wife, over a mariachi band of instruments from I Love You, Honeybear.

On I Love You, Honeybear, which was released February 9th, 2015, Tillman takes this cynical approach to writing about his new marriage, the many obstacles he faces in the game of love, and other topics like how bored he is in the USA. The end product is one of the most sincere and honest albums that will be sure to mess with you if you really pay attention to the substance.

My personal favorite song from that album is “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” because the vibe is of a blues bar, sipping aged whiskey, and swaying side-to-side. It feels like an American dream. Overall, Father John Misty is an American treasure because he is genuine in a world of insincerity.