As an outlet for songwriter Andy Dixon’s sundry creative impulses, Athens band Gumshoe has found itself exploring everything from twangy Americana to soulful stomp to angular indie rock. With his latest album, The Governor’s Brother—out Nov. 16—Dixon gets deep, dark and disillusioned as he processes the 2016 election and its unsettling aftermath.
Today, we’re happy to premiere the album’s second single, the lurching, moonlit “Amorosa,” which finds Dixon addressing our current conundrum, as well as the death of his heroes and humanity’s place in the cosmos, with the songwriter’s signature lyrical savvy.
Dixon’s written explanation for the song is long, but it deserves to be shared in full:
It was January 2017. Trump was about to be inaugurated and all my cultural heroes were dying. I was visiting an old friend, staying in his basement, while coming to the slow-motion car crash of a realization that this guy I’d known for 25 years was very possibly a sociopath and a danger to his own family.
I had been visiting him a year before when Bowie’s last album came out – and I geeked out in the basement like a teenager. I listened to the stark-look-at-mortality title track on repeat till two days later, David Bowie died.
The next year was spent in an extended cringe, watching the 60 mllion car pile-up that was Trump’s candidacy in my rear-view and thinking it would stop before it got to me right?
I arrived to find my friend deep in relapse, denial and assholishness. As I cleaned up yet another turd that he had left behind, my perspective shifted just enough till I realized that his puzzling life made a lot more sense if I didn’t believe anything he said – ever -and assumed that he was the asshole in each situation.
When I needed time to myself, I hid in the basement, which may as well been the set for the Blackstar video, or Bowie’s crypt or something. It was cold and poorly lit, and the furniture was all black. Unused sports equipment was stuffed lumpily into long duffel bags and piled in a corner of the room – and honestly looked like a pile of what could’ve been about 5 bodies, processed into parts and bagged up.
Bowie was dead. Prince was dead. Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, George Martin, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Muhammad Ali, Snape, General Leia, Willy Wonka, Craig Sager and his suits, and the incomparable Gary Shandling. Dead.
My buddy’s family was around the big screen for the inauguration, but I just couldn’t look. I went down to my basement tomb and spent most of the next two days writing page after page of lyrics, all set to an ultra-repetitive two chord rhythmic structure.
A lot of it came out sounding like a prayer, even though I’ve prayed maybe three times in my whole life. I don’t even know how many verses I wrote – 30 or 40? It’s one of the few times I haven’t had a notebook to work in, and I lost at least a couple of the loose pages and scraps I worked on. It turned into a series of questions, and then thoughts about science, and a few verses filled with shoutouts to all the dead stars.
I didn’t even look at what I wrote till maybe 6 months later, when i took out part of it to make Amorosa. I whittled the RIP section down to Bowie and for some reason the Beastie Boys’ MCA, whose death even 6 years later can still make me a little misty eyed.
By the end, it’s a ‘Bowie/space/vastness of the cosmos/human yearning for more’ song straight through. I actually worked out the math in the “stars vs all the hair in human history” verse, and it’s accurate.
Check out “Amorosa” below:
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