#154 – Funtimes In Babylon


Artist – Father John Misty
Album – Fear Fun
Year – 2012
Genre – Indie/Folk

Well, I officially can’t say Rolling Stone never gave me anything besides ten thousand articles on Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan to read. I found out about Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman, aka Joshua Tillman) through one of their articles. Naturally, a name like that piqued my interest and I did some digging, and lo and behold I stumble upon a phenomenal indie folk artist! Thanks RS, even if every single Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan Re-Release/B-sides/Attic Sessions/Lost Tapes release gets 4 stars every time.

The song is musically simple enough, but it has a some wonderful features that make it stand out from the deluge of similar artists out there right now. First of all, there’s a wonderful chorus that backs up Tillman throughout the song, and it really gets beautiful when they hit the chorus. The guitar and piano set the mood wonderfully during each verse, and the simple drums keep everything in line. There’s also much appreciated mandolin strumming passages in there for good measure. I mean, we have to make sure all the folk elements are in line!

However, the real draw of the song is Tillman’s vocal performance and lyricism. His voice is clear and passionate, but it has that rustic feel that gives life to the music. It’s the true folk voice. The way stretches out those first notes in the first line keeps you fully engrossed from the start.

Tillman hits full stride during the chorus. Not only is the melody crazy catchy and melancholic, but his emotion during “smoke everything in sight with every girl I’ve ever loved” cracks the air like a whip. His falsetto jump combined with the melody really gives that sense of desperation and longing that I think he’s going for. The final line of the chorus resolves everything beautifully, and Tillman’s expression of “look out Hollywood, here I come” has the melody and catharsis of both a weary sigh and a determined stranglehold.

The song as a whole is really about letting yourself enjoy life before everything comes to an end, or something bad happens to you. But the way the song is sung is a bit deeper than that. There’s a real sense of loneliness, or maybe frustration in Tillman’s voice. It’s definitely a sad song, despite the message of uninhibited choices that it presents. It’s as if Tillman is presenting all of these things ironically, except for that emotional falsetto jump line earlier. To me, his expression of love is as real as his musings get. But that doesn’t detract from the message of the song. It adds a whole new layer to it, and makes it twice as good if you interpret it in that way. It’s much more tragic and relatable that way, at least to me.

Either way you slice it, “Funtimes In Babylon” is a beautifully sung folk track that needs to be heard by everyone who can appreciate the genre! It’s a great song to add to your “Chill” playlist that I know all of you have. C’mon, don’t deny it.

Thanks for reading, as always. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments. Share the song if you like it!

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