Thoughts and prayers. It’s a sentiment that’s become a part of America’s rhetoric whenever tragedy strikes. “The phrase is such a large part of the fabric of the national conversation these days, it almost comes out of our mouths without thinking about it,” says Mark Fredson. In response to the incessantly used expression, the Nashville-based artist wrote his own “Thoughts and Prayers.”
As he watched the news one night and heard the phrase (again), the chorus hit Fredson. “I wanted to use the song to outline some things that I saw as kinda dark about our national psyche, along with some of the tribulations we were facing at the time, but not come off as preachy,” he says. “The way to do that for me was with touching on the empty gesture of sending thoughts and prayers and then immediately changing the channel, or, in this case, escaping the harshness of the world with the escape and comfort that the movie theater brings—something I’m guilty of as much as the next person.”
Off Fredson’s debut Going to the Movies, which was recorded during the summer of 2017 at his home studio in South Nashville, Fredson pieced together all the tracks, some from scratch, others from demos. Flanked by puppets—created by longtime friend, drummer and “Thoughts and Prayers” guitarist Pete Lindberg—the video, directed by Casey Pierce, offers an iota of levity, with Fredson even portrayed as a puppet, crooning the soft rock tale of this often empty words. Perhaps we’re all puppets reciting “thoughts and prayers” on automatic pilot.
“I wanted the video to offer the kind of escape that I’m talking about in the song, at least for four minutes,” says Fredson. “And I think we got pretty close.”
All the slow, tender listening bedroom pop of Going to the Movies plays through so effortless, yet it was a labor of love, and life lessons, for Fredson. Aside from his puppet persona, he even played producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist on the debut. “It took me about six months to finish tracking, partly because I’m obsessive and lean a little on the perfectionist side, and partly because I was working a full-time job in-between,” he says. “Those always tends to mess up the timeline of creative pursuits.”
Some tracks took months to write, while others came out in a day on Going to the Movies. Mixed and mastered by August 2018, Fredson has already sent his second album out of for mixing.
Hearing “Thoughts and Prayers” everywhere, the phrase just wouldn’t get out of his head. So he wrote a song about it.
“With ‘Thoughts and Prayers,’ I had the verse melody kicking around for a little while, but I never was able to find lyrics that gave the melody justice, until I wrote the chorus one night,” says Fredson. “The lightbulb went off to combine the verse melody I had with the chorus, then the song finished itself within a couple sittings.”