Track-by-Track: Kevin Morby on “City Music” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Track-by-Track: Kevin Morby on “City Music”

Morby on His Fourth Album, Out Today via Dead Oceans

Jun 16, 2017 Kevin Morby Photography by Adarsha Benjamin Bookmark and Share

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For the Track-by-Track feature, we go in-depth with an artist about each song on their new album. This week we are featuring Kevin Morby‘s City Music, out today on Dead Oceans.

Morby’s music wears the weight of the songwriters he’s often compared toLeonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylanwith confidence. Those reference points could buckle lesser records, but now with City Music, his fourth solo record following several years on bass with Woods and fronting The Babies, expectations and references mean less than his own excellent body of work.

Morby wrote the record during a reclusive period in Los Angeles, immediately after writing his previous record, 2016’s Singing Saw. The new album is a bit of a thought experiment. The singer/songwriter wrote a fictionalized version of himself grappling with seclusion, he says, and transposed it over a New York City sonic landscape.

In advance of its release, Morby walked Under the Radar through all 12 tracks, with a behind-the-scenes commentary on the songs’ inspirations and meanings.

“Come to Me Now”

Kevin Morby: “Come to Me Now” is kind of told from the perspective of this fictitious recluse that I’ve come up with. It’s a song about being reclusive and relating to the world in this way. It’s somebody who really doesn’t like the daytime, really likes the nighttime and sees the world from their apartment.


This is the only one I didn’t write around this time period. I wrote it towards the end of The Babies. And so that’s a good example of a song that thematically still fits with everything that I was writing about, and so I was happy to have it on the record.


I wrote this song as homage to Jim Carroll and the first lineup of The Ramones. They’re kind of likeI think of them and Woody Guthrie in the same waythey kind of a segue to things that became more important to me. But I found out about both of their music when I was a kid, because their music is kind of like these lullabies. It’s almost like children’s music, but it goes a lot deeper than that. It’s just kind of in your head from birth, it’s just everywhere.

“Aboard My Train”

It’s a very reflective song, it’s kind of a traveling song, just written about the cast of characters that I’ve come into contact with over the past 10 years of, you know, traveling all the time.

“Dry Your Eyes”

“Dry Your Eyes” is a very lonely city song. It’s speaking exactly to that thing of being anonymous in a busy place.

“Flannery” (excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s novel The Violent Bear It Away, read by Meg Baird)

That passage from that Flannery O’Connor book, The Violent Bear It Away, just sort of spoke to a certain sentiment that I was trying to get at on this record, where a city comes across as larger than life.

“City Music”

I wrote that riff a long time ago on a banjo, and I never knew what I wanted to do with it. And then I started playing it at a practice, and it took on this life form of kind of being like a Television song. I thought that kind of conjured up this idea to have a song called “City Music” that was about that general feeling of being in a city. It began as a totally different thing, kind of [makes banjo noise], and then it turned into something completely different.

“Tin Can”

Very much written from this perspective of this fictitious recluse, kind of seeing the world from their apartment. Just this sort of thing of, like, loving your surroundings but just not being able to quite penetrate them. Liking being around a certain energy but not being able to connect with it.

“Caught in My Eye”

“Caught in My Eye” is a Germs cover, or a reinterpretation of a Germs song. My friend Johnny has always loved that song, and he had always said he wanted to hear somebody do a sort of a beautiful version of that song that would showcase the lyrics. So I did that for him, and I liked it so I put it on the record.

“Night Time”

Once again, this person sort of seeing the world outside of a window and not knowing how to connect to it, and it kind of being very literal. It’s taking place at night, and the neighborhood is very much alive but you’re kind of stuck up in this place. And you’re kind of enjoying it from a far.

“Pearly Gates”

It’s kind of a fun song. I wanted to write a song that had a fun play on death. The chorus is this person wondering when I die, and if there’s a heaven, and I’m in line at the Pearly Gates, what song will be in my head and what will I be wearing? And it’s a fun take on a funeral or something like that, if that makes any sensea celebratory thinking of death in a lighthearted way.

“Downtown’s Lights”

It’s, again, feeling this disconnection with the city. There’s a line in that song that says, that I think sums up the record in a lot of ways, it’s maybe my favorite lyric in the song that I wrote. “Downtown’s locked up for the night/and I don’t have a key.” It’s feeling separation from something that’s so big and massive and you don’t have what it takes to connect to it for whatever reason. It’s a very simple song. I was listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt at the time and kind of writing a song in the style of him. I felt very connected to [NYC when I lived there]. Again it’s sort of like, this is all coming from the headspace of being in LA and feeling reclusive there. And I wrote a record about that called Singing Saw, and then I was like, “I want to write another record about the same thing but with a different landscape.” So that’s why I came up with this fictitious character, because I didn’t feel that way really in New York. It was more like a character study and giving myself homework.

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July 16th 2017

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November 22nd 2017

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December 29th 2017

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December 29th 2017

Music Paradise Pro app is one of the music streaming application for Android which allows listening to music in real time and it even allows you to download any number of songs from any genre for free