© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

First Watch: Okkervil River, 'Okkervil River R.I.P'

Sometimes the best way to save yourself is to let go of the things that once seemed indispensable. That's what Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff had in mind when he wrote the stirring "Okkervil River R.I.P.," an elegy to his beloved band's past life.

In a new video for the track, written and beautifully directed by Will Sheff, the singer literally buries himself in a remote country cemetery as a firebrand priest, played by actor Tim Blake Nelson, delivers a passionate eulogy. In a statement to fans, Sheff calls the song an emotional transcript of a difficult time.

"2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. I lost some connections in a music industry that was visibly falling apart. Some members of the Okkervil River backing band left, moving on to family life or to their own projects. I spent a good deal of time sitting in hospice with my grandfather, who was my idol, while he died. I felt like I didn't know where I belonged. When there was trouble at home, a friend offered me her empty house in the Catskills where I could go and clear my head. New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible. I wasn't thinking about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling, quickly and directly. Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new."

The video for "Okkervil River R.I.P." was shot in upstate New York, with director of photography Johnny North. The song is from Okkervil River's upcoming album, Away, due out Sept. 9 on ATO Records.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.