Songwriting often seems to come from within a musician’s own imagination – but once in a while, the catalyst for creativity comes in the form of a commission.
Such was the case for “Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon,” the latest single from Portland, Oregon-based Americana-folk duo Siren Songs. The song premieres on April 22, with an April 24 release date.
Explaining the song’s unique origins, Jenn Grinels says, “I was recently commissioned to write a musical for a theatre company in NYC which tells the true story of a 19-year-old woman named Sarah Rosetta Wakeman who posed as a man and fought and died during the Civil War. During this time, she wrote letters home to her parents about the experience. The musical is based on these letters and her search for identity.” (Grinels says the musical is currently using the working title “Rosetta/The Civil War Project.”)
“Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon” is, according to Grinels, “a lullaby. Something classic and timeless. The lyric is about a little bird that flies South for the winter and returns home in the spring. [T]he lyric serves as a metaphor.” Besides being used in the forthcoming musical, the song will also be included on the band’s self-titled full-length album that’s set for release on May 29.
Even though Grinels wrote “Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon” and other songs for this specific musical, she says that she made sure that they also stand on their own. “I aimed to write songs that could exist outside of a musical theatre context… I wanted them to sound like they could have been written today or possibly a hundred years ago.” This is possible, she says, because the musical’s themes (identity, equality, acceptance) are still relevant.
Merideth Kaye Clark, the other half of Siren Songs, agrees that the material “is a timeless subject which is only now being brought to the public media – and this concept shows how people have been dealing with and struggling with this for a long time. It’s a timeless subject but it’s timely in that now we are finally holding space for those stories.”
Clark says that when Grinels brought the song to her, she immediately agreed that it would fit in well as a Siren Songs track: “It felt very much in line with the other songs that we were singing and very much in-line with our sound,” she says, adding that when it came time to record it for the album, “it didn’t change much from the original concept.”
As for the recording process itself, Clark says, “The album was recorded almost completely live together in the studio. Just a couple mics and us, and a great recording engineer. It’s not a very ‘produced’ sounding album – it’s very simple and raw.”
The result, Grinels says, “sounds exactly how we imagined it would. How we hoped it would.”
If you like what you hear, you can pre-add or pre-order on Apple Music below.