When Amos Lee wrote “Worry No More,” it started out as a mantra, then became more. It was an excavation of his own mental health and searching for “beauty in the broken lines” of anxiety and depression.
“It’s a moment of pause, of praising the extraordinarily ordinary,” says Lee of his first single since the 2018 release My New Moon. “We may not have more than a moment, both metaphorically and in real-time, but the door is open, there is a place to exist in the mind that isn’t purely controlled by fear… We can choose fear, worry, hatred, or-we can, at the very least, allow ourselves to let go and drift through the madness for a moment, like a ghost, or like a breath on the wings of a song.”
Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Christian “Leggy” Langdon (Meg Myers, Banks), “Worry No More” is the first single off Lee’s upcoming eighth album Dreamland, out in 2022.
“When I wrote this record, it was really an album about isolation and the concept of appearing and disappearing in your own life, to your own self, to the people around you,” share Lee, who penned the song prior to the pandemic. “’Worry No More’ sort of plays in the same way as that. I’ve lived in a city for most of my life, and something that I really love is disappearing into the streets with headphones on and just observing the world around me and being in it and that’s kind of where I go in that song. Music has been that way for me, a place to exist that is like a bubble. And this new world is the ultimate bubble.”
Nowadays, Lee finds himself drawn to writing about people he empathizes with through different experiences. “Sometimes that’s myself, and I’m digging into my own shit,” he says, “but either way, I just want to write songs that I feel are connected to these stories. Sometimes I write songs that are just more of a silly thing, and that’s fine, but those songs for me sometimes have been the most accessible, like ‘Sweet Pea’ [Supply and Demand, 2006], and I thought nothing of it, but it became a song that people relate to and share in these extremely personal moments, like weddings.”
Divisiveness has no place in Lee’s songs as he tries to find more places to connect rather than dwell on differences.
“I’m trying to find more places to connect with people’s humanity rather than to kind of disassemble it,” he says. “I do think that there needs to be a lot more conversation in real life than there is now. I think people have become comfortable in these forms of communication that are way less personal, and more appealing to the dry ego than to actual humanity. When you are talking with someone in real life, there’s a way to disagree and also understand someone else’s humanity, whereas if you’re on a platform that’s not a conversation, that’s not vulnerable, you’re not going to find a different place in yourself that’s going to have a learning curve.”
Currently on tour and set to play the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tennessee on Sept. 25 with additional shows running into 2022, everything has shifted for Lee more than 15 years since his self-titled debut. Songwriting evolved, and for him, the “process” has been entirely different.
“I’m finally at the point in my life, where I’ve stopped moving, and I got sober for a while, and that was interesting,” shares Lee. “Everything is just more raw. All the emotions are raw. Everything you feel like, or whatever you’re doing to get away from the pain, or self medicate, you’re just saying ‘I’m dealing with this. I’m facing this, and I’m gonna just sit here with it no matter how hard it gets. I’m just gonna keep staring at it and let it stare at me and I’m not going to run away.’”
Lee adds, “Then after a while, the staring stops and you start to embrace the pain, and embrace whatever the discomfort is.”
Bob Dylan once wrote to Lee: “Hey, just stick with it, and all those ghosts in the night will be laid low.” Those words signed by Dylan in his 2004 book “Chronicles” for Lee while the two were on tour together have stuck with the artist to this day.
“That’s kind of where I feel like I’m at now,” reveals Lee. “I’m based on some of those ghosts, and I stopped running from them, and I’ve stopped being afraid of them. Now I accept that maybe I’m just one of them.”