Craig Finn is a hero around these parts. You only have to read our piece on The Hold Steady’s Separation Sunday to realise just how interesting and important his writing is to us. Finn also has a fledgling solo recording career, with his under-appreciated début Clear Heart Full Eyes coming out in 2012, and the announcement of a new album, Faith In The Future announced today ahead of a September release.
Finn has unveiled a new song to accompany the announcement. ‘Newmyer’s Roof’ is far more restrained than The Hold Steady but still relies on Finn’s sharp turn of phrase which elevates mundane situations to something meaningful, transforming everyday words and imagery into things imbued with symbolism. “They had the cross in the car, they had the pig in the pen,” he sings, “I was in the bathroom doing my best to ascend.”
The songs comes with a note which provides some context to the themes of the song:
“I was working at an office in Union Square and my friend and boss Chris Newmyer suggested we come to his apartment on 2nd Avenue in the East Village. We could see the towers from the roof he said.
We went up there and saw the towers burn and then collapse. At some point he suggested we get some beer. I didn’t know what to feel that day, most of us had no emotion to access. So we got some beer, and drank them while watching the World Trade Center go down. It sounds detached now, but at the time it made sense on a day when nothing else made sense. I spent some years after that in darkness.”
At this point you get the impression that the song is going to be something vast and detached, charting the fear and confusion of post-9/11 life. While that sounds cool and worth exploring, Finn’s next sentences flip the whole thing:
There was a girl in the 33rd floor of one of the towers that was a receptionist at an investment bank. She went to work that day and when the plane hit they asked her to stay where she was. They said it was safest. She decided against that and walked out of the towers and, like the rest of us, did her best to get on with her life.
Some years later I went to a birthday party. I talked to this girl. We talked all night. We fell in love and are still together. I came out of the darkness. I’m glad she didn’t do what they told her to do.
So what at first seems impersonal and ominous turns out to be the opposite. While Finn goes on to say that the song isn’t explicitly about that event, it’s pretty clear it is. He may not describe the scene or mention names beyond the cryptic Newmyer in the title, but this is a song about battling through darkness into the light, about healing and about faith in the future.
You can read the rest of Finn’s note and watch the video right now over at NPR.
Faith In The Future will be released on Partisan Records and you can pre-order it now through Pledge Music. As you would expect there are a whole host of rewards for pre-ordering the various levels, from signed CDs, t-shirts and custom mixes to drinks with Finn (!), running with Finn (!!) and entry into the Craig Finn book club (!!!). All pre-orders come with an immediate download of the Newmyer’s Roof EP too, so what are you waiting for?