The End: Marissa Nadler | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The End: Marissa Nadler

Eternal Spiritual Presence

Oct 29, 2021 Web Exclusive
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To end out the week, we ask Marissa Nadler some questions about endings and death.

Nadler’s new album, The Path of the Clouds, is out today via Sacred Bones and Bella Union. Nadler wrote and recorded the album during the pandemic and was partially inspired by binging reruns of Unsolved Mysteries as she “began to notice parallels between many of its stories and her own life,” as a press release puts it. On The Path of the Clouds she worked with various collaborators, including Mary Lattimore, Simon Raymonde (of Cocteau Twins and Lost Horizons and the head of Bella Union), multi-instrumentalist Milky Burgess, Jesse Chandler (Nadler’s piano teacher and a member of Mercury Rev and Midlake), Emma Ruth Rundle, and Black Mountain’s Amber Webber. Seth Manchester (Lingua Ignota, Battles, and Lightning Bolt) mixed the album. Nadler’s last album was 2018’s For My Crimes.

Read on as Nadler discusses what music she would like to have played on her deathbed and at her subsequent funeral, what her favorite movie and TV series endings are, her idea of both heaven and hell, and who (or what) she would like to be reincarnated as.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

I first think of the ways of death that I wish to avoid. I would love not to be murdered, and would love not to have a car go off of a bridge. I would definitely not want to drown. Ideally, in my sleep at a very old age.

What song would you like to be playing on your deathbed?

I hope to never have to be on a deathbed. But if I were to find myself bound to one, and had to pick a soundtrack to my demise, I’d love to hear Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.” It would be beautiful and kind of fitting. Here’s hoping for the afterlife.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

I would want instrumental music to be played to enable people to have headspace for their own thoughts and emotions. I find that when I listen to lyrical music with vocals, I really focus in on them. I would want a peaceful meditative piece, like “The Big Ship” off of Brian Eno’s Another Green World, or Harold Budd’s “Olancha Farewell.” Something that brings calm reflection.

What’s your favorite ending to a movie?

The Shawshank Redemption is one of them. I happen to love a mostly happy ending. Andy Dufresne’s triumphant escape through the tunnel behind the poster of Rita Hayworth was borderline euphoric to watch. I still wish Brooks had survived, though the depiction of his suicide did illuminate the difficulties of reentering society after a lengthy incarceration.

What’s your favorite last line in a book?

Well, if we’re not counting the epilogue. I always loved this book. “But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.” – Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What’s your favorite series finale episode of a TV show?

Six Feet Under’s last episode, “Everyone’s Waiting,” was incredibly moving and deeply satisfying. Over seven minutes, the characters rapidly age and die in a one of a kind montage of fates revealed. It was just a perfect ending to one of the best shows ever to grace the television set.

What’s your favorite last song on an album?

This changes so often. The two that I always come back to are “The Last Time I Saw Richard” off of Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and “Sara” off of Bob Dylan’s Desire. Both of these songs are deeply confessional and beautifully written.

What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

Though Let It Be was the last they released, Abbey Road was the last album The Beatles recorded. There are so many beautiful songs on that album, and it really stands up to the test of time.

What’s your concept of the afterlife?

I don’t know, of course, what happens. I can’t even begin to predict. I do love to gravitate towards the notion that energy cannot be created or destroyed. That part of the soul lingers and becomes a presence or a spirit.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Being set free of all the sadness, fear, anxiety, and pain that plagues humanity. It’s nice to hope for some kind of eternal calm. I’d love forests and oceans to magically be there too.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

I think it would be pretty much the exact opposite of the above, go figure. Being trapped with those things for all of eternity—never having peace.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

I don’t think I would want to be human again—there’s too much sadness. I would love to be an octopus for their intelligence and ability to change colors, a jellyfish because bioluminescence is amazing, a bird to experience flying, and a maple tree to glow magically in the autumn.

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