Big Red Machine - Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes & Anaïs Mitchell)

Song of the Day
Hosted by John Richards

Today's Song of the Day, as chosen by John RIchards, host of The Morning Show on KEXP, is "Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes & Anaïs Mitchell)" by Big Red Machine, from the 2021 album How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? on 37d03d.

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pHOTO by Graham Tolbert
written by janice headley

Last month, The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon released their second album under the name Big Red Machine, titled How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?. The album features a heavyweight line-up of guests, including Taylor Swift, Sharon Van Etten, This Is The Kit, Ben Howard, Naeem, Lisa Hannigan, My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova, and on today's Song of the Day, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and Tony Award-winning singer/songwriter Anaïs Mitchell

"'Phoenix' was one of the last songs we wrote for this record," Dessner says via a press release. "I was thinking about The Band and the Grateful Dead... maybe imagining this Big Red Machine album was some version of The Last Waltz. Justin first heard it while driving and immediately the chorus melody came into his head. I shared the sketch with Robin Pecknold, who I've been a fan of forever and who I'd been dreaming would join us on this record. Robin wrote the verses and pre chorus as a kind of dialogue with Justin, recalling a conversation they once had backstage in Phoenix. Later Anais wrote words to the chorus and The Westerlies added their magic to the instrumental. JT Bates rumbles around in rare form on the drums on this song. I think it's what I always imagined Big Red Machine would sound like."

Pecknold adds, “It was a high, high honor to work on this song, and beyond that it was a really interesting creative challenge. Justin’s vocals and the beautiful chorus were already in place before I got my hands on it, so I felt my job melodically and lyrically was to set his entrance up in the best possible way. I felt like a pilgrim putting questions to an elusive sage, not needing clear answers, but happy for the chance to ask.”

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