Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear album has taken over my life. Well, my record player’s life, anyway. The Decemberists vinyl Valentine’s Day present Mrs. YHT got me managed to break the stranglehold, but Honeybear is still spinning regularly at YHT headquarters. It’s an incredible album. I’d also call it vital.
We — you, me, humans on planet Earth — need this album, though it might be more accurate to say that we all need to process the message it conveys. In describing his experience in his relationship, Tillman touches on themes of intimacy that go far beyond romantic relationships. These songs make you question how well you know the people you know best. Friends. Family. Yourself. Are you with someone who loves you “as you are when you’re alone”? Do you even know who that person is? How honest are you?
It’s tempting to call this message timely — to say something about how these questions are especially crucial now that we have rich digital lives that can mask the nature of the real life interactions we have with people — but the importance of self reflection isn’t new. It’s impossible to fully understand your own thoughts and motivations, but you have to try, because it’s so easy for your thoughts and motivations to stand between you and the truth.
Since I started listening to this album, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about racism. How there are many, many people out there who harbor intense prejudice and act on that prejudice but would never in a million years consider themselves racist. How, when you hear about a Department of Justice investigation into whether police violence was racially motivated, you have to wonder how they’re going to prove it. Mind reading would help, but even then, you might just hear some racist asshole telling him/herself “I’m not racist.”
This is pretty far afield from the subject matter on I Love You, Honeybear, but this idea of setting a high bar for knowing yourself and the people around you has truly shaken me. It’s been like a Ferris Bueller call to stop and take a look around. Life moves fast, and it’s so easy to miss out on the depth it has to offer. Listening to Father John Misty helps me dig deeper — maybe he’ll do the same for you. Listen to two Honeybear tracks below and click here to buy.