When Chuck Prophet’s father lost his job during a recession, he was still suited up at 6 a.m. at the breakfast table, perusing the day’s paper. “I don’t know if he had an appointment to get to or not, but he’d read the classifieds in his suit smelling of cologne,” says Prophet. “That image has stayed with me.”
His father showed up—job or not—a poignant message during current times as livelihoods are being slowly upended, the safety net of a jobs are loosening, and as people struggle with the daily line between hope and hopelessness. Prophet explores this notion, and how it relates to what is happening now with the coronavirus, on new track “Best Shirt On,” off his upcoming album, The Land That Time Forgot (Yep Roc), out August 21.
Described by Prophet as a “21st Century exorcism from Silicon Valley to the White House, inspired by the San Francisco cult hero being priced out of his rapidly-gentrifying home turf” The Land That Time Forgot, a follow up to 2017’s Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, will be accompanied by the release of his official biography, the written by Stevie Simkin-penned “What Makes the Monkey Dance: The Life And Music Of Chuck Prophet And Green On Red” (Outline Press).
“Best Shirt On” follows up latest single “Marathon,” and kicks off this conviction that everything comes to pass—even when it comes to love—cracking open with Sometimes I fall straight down into nothing / Sometimes I float right into the ceiling and drifting into Prophet’s carefree croon of I got my best shirt on / Another one just like it / Hanging in my closet.
Smooth and fine tuned, there’s nothing charged up or abrasive on the lo-fi “Best Shirt On,” yet it’s message comes across loud. It may just be the anthem we need during these challenging times.
“The hooks seem to roll off so easy for this guy,” Prophet says about his “Best Shirt On” persona. “You care about the poor guy. He’s wearing his one good shirt. I hope she shows up. Don’t leave the dude standing out in the rain, hat in hand. [It’s] Serious stuff. To me, it is.”
Prophet says the track is light and breezy with Beach Boys summer love song chord changes. “There was no other place in the sequence for this,” says Prophet. “Producer Matt Winegar (Primus) really made this track happen—fast and seemingly off the cuff.”
Reminiscing back to his father, who worked for Avery Label, Prophet remembers the new Oldsmobile the company would give his dad every year. When he lost his job, the car went too. “It hurt me to see my dad scooting around in my mother’s crappy Toyota, even with the three-piece suit, briefcase, wingtips and the cologne.” he says. “But I think I learned something from that.”
What Prophet learned from his father, and the world’s current state of affairs, is that we all have to show up, every day, despite the circumstances, and give it our best—with our best shirt on.
Prophet shares this message of hope during these trying times:
Even in the worst of times, you got to get dressed up and go make the donuts, people. Keep showing up—for yourself and others. Six feet is not that far away, if you’re wearing your glasses! And don’t let yourself go. You must resist the temptation to put on those pajamas at 2p.m. It’s a slippery slope. Believe me, I know. I’ve been “working” at home from the beginning. Sure I have good days and bad days, just like you. But then there’s the days where I come across Happy Gilmore on cable and boom, the whole day just got away from me.