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Two Literature Professors Grade Father John Misty’s Lyrics

As Father John Misty, Josh Tillman has released four albums of labyrinthine folk-pop focused largely on sex, drugs and the American male ego (though the latest, this year’s God’s Favorite Customer, is an uncharacteristically crystalline reflection on art, love and fame). While many critics praise Tillman’s lyricism as poignant and perceptive, others dismiss it as arrogant and indulgent.

Ahead of Tillman’s two-night stand at the Georgia Theatre—a venue that sits blocks away from one of America’s foremost public universities—we tasked two literature professors with “grading” a couple of the troubadour’s tunes based on their lyrics alone. One is an admitted Misty stan, the other still on the fence. Check out the profs’ handwritten analysis below.

Davey Wrathgabar

Qualifications: MA, writing and rhetoric, Virginia Commonwealth University; professor, first-year composition, UGA and Athens Technical College.

Song: “Chateau Lobby No. 4 (In C for Two Virgins)” (I Love You, Honeybear, 2015)

Misty Bias: “I don’t hate Father John Misty, but also sometimes think he might be the thinking man’s John Mayer.”  


Jenny Mary Brown

Qualifications: PhD, English, Georgia State University; MA, creative writing, University College Dublin; professor, creative writing, Humboldt State University.

Song: “The Palace” (God’s Favorite Customer, 2018)

Misty Bias: “I really like Father John Misty. I think this particular song is a bit on the lazy side, but his voice carries it anyway. I almost don’t care what he’s talking about with a voice like that. Other songs, though, are really poignant. I’m thinking of ‘Bored in the USA.’”



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