A.A. Bondy, “Surfer King”

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[Photo Credit: Ted Newsome]

This week’s Lyric Of The Week presented by TuneSat.

A.A. Bondy doesn’t like to give away too much about the songs on his new album, Believers. Or maybe, it’s there isn’t that much to give.

“Most of this record is just following your nose and trusting that your intuition is tied to something, but not necessarily knowing what that is,” says Bondy. “A song or image can be affecting without having any idea what it means.”

Bondy began writing his third solo album Believers through a series of loose jam sessions with his band in Mississippi and Woodstock, New York. He says he wanted to move away from the writing style of his first two records, which he had come to feel was lyrically too didactic and literal.

Bondy focused on the music with the band first and worked on the lyrics later by himself. “I don’t like to do it that way,” he says. “I like it all to show up at once if it can. But, it wasn’t really happening like that on this one.”

When the lyrics to the songs did come, they seemed to create a dreamscape built out of images Bondy had collected while on the road.

“I’d just walk by someone in the street and they’d say something weird to me. Or I’d see something strange under a bridge. If I was interested enough, I’d jot something down. That’s what I mean by being ‘semi-conscious’ – keeping a trap mouth open and hopefully catching things.”

And so Believers is an album full of lovely images that don’t make immediate sense. Bondy says that’s okay. The songs are a little mysterious to him too.

“I spend a lot of time not-knowing how I feel about things. I don’t know how to articulate everything. I don’t think I know what I mean in each song.”

But there are also parts of each song where Bondy says he knows exactly what he means.

“There might be lines taken from some poem that I wrote a year ago, mixed with stuff taken out of a journal entry where I was at the beach. I’m just grabbing things from everywhere. But then the whole chorus could be very specific. The [songs] duck in and out of being a little bit more abstract and what I feel like is very literal for me – but I’m in direct contact with it, nobody else would be.”

If there were a theme to Believers, though Bondy may shrug off any overarching meaning, it could be about time spent alone.

“If you live by yourself for four, five, six months – especially after being surrounded by a lot of people and a lot of stimulation – going straight into aloneness, days will just stack up on top of each other and you have nothing really to separate them. It does become pretty dreamlike, like you’re drifting.”

That’s the place that “Surfer King” came out of. The song starts out languidly, with chiming sounds, before the band kicks into a lackadaisical and sunny melody.

“That song is about that,” says Bondy. “These kind of low-grade, regular, mundane life experiences… trying to imagine something… recalling or projecting a place that’s more wondrous from a place that is pretty beige. When you’re just going through those periods where there are doldrums basically. You think about people you care about or these situations that are burned into your brain. It’s just one of those abstractions. Like going from television snow to the most grand and colorful thing there is. Between the music and the words, it’s trying to impart how that feels, which I have a difficult time explaining. I was hoping those things would explain themselves or at least conjure that feeling when they listen to it. But it’s a pretty tricky thing; I don’t know how successful it is.”

“It’s like something David Lynch said one time: ‘Nobody said that it has to make sense.’ That’s what I like about him. People spend hours on threads online trying to figure out what Mulholland Drive means. But you don’t have to follow it in any sort of linear sense for it to be enjoyable. Just watch it.”

“Surfer King”

Behind the red door
In American skin
There is a murder of roses
In the midnight hiss
Come cover me there
For I am electric nothing

Out on the tide
Strangers all
Drowning by
Under eclipse
I wait for your kiss
With the beating…
These idiot hearts

And no more evil now
No horror sound
No maniac song from tyrant
And the surfer king
Will show me everything
In the great, green flash of the evening

Out on the tide
Strangers we ride
Smoke in our eyes
Under eclipse
I wait for your kiss
With the beating…
These idiot hearts

Written by A.A. Bondy

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