On ‘Bethlehem’, the third single from Will Butler’s imminent new solo album Generations, fevered energy arrives at the song’s onset and never relents, providing what might be the most cathartic three and a half minutes you’ll hear all year. It premiered last night alongside an interview on Apple Music’s ALT CTRL program. Today, Butler presents the video, which, like a nightmare of a Flemish still life, shows the anxious preparation of a symbolic feast (co-directed by Adrienne Anderson).
Generations arrives next week on September 25th; pre-orders are shipping out soon, so reserve your copy today on CD, LP, and red splatter Peak Vinyl in the Merge store, or wherever records are sold.
Will Butler on the background of ‘Bethlehem’:
“This song partly springs from ‘The Second Coming’ by William Butler Yeats: ‘what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”’Like a lot of folks, I woke up after the election in 2016 mad and sad and scared and exhausted. This song is born of that emotion.
“My bandmates Jenny Shore, Julie Shore and Sara Dobbs sing the bridge, and it’s a corrective to my (appropriate?) freaking out—this isn’t the apocalypse. You’re misquoting Yeats. Get your fucking head on straight. History has not ruptured—this shit we’re in is contiguous with the shit we’ve been dealing with for a long, long time. But still, we sometimes do need an apocalyptic vision to make change. Even if it’s technically wrong. I dunno. It’s an ongoing conversation.”
Watch the video for ‘Bethlehem’ – BELOW:
In the five years since Will Butler released his debut album, Policy, he’s toured the world both solo and as a member of Arcade Fire, released the Friday Night live album, recorded and released Arcade Fire’s international #1 album Everything Now, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, hosted a series of touring town halls on local issues (police contracts, prison reform, municipal paid sick leave, voting rights), and spent time raising his three children.
He also found the time and inspiration to write and record a new album, Generations.
“My first record, Policy, was a book of short stories,” Butler says. “Generations is more of a novel—despairing, funny, a little bit epic… A big chunk of this record is asking: What’s my place in American history? What’s my place in America’s present? Both in general—as a participant, as we all are, in the shit that’s going down—but, also extremely particularly: me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, Mormon, Yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess. What do I do? What can I do? The record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.”
Will Butler and his band recently wrapped up a Take Away Show for La Blogothèque that will premiere Thursday, September 24, at 9 pm BST. Follow Butler on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the loop!