Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold Records His Heartbreak in a New Song

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 23 2012 1:52 PM

Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold Records His Heartbreak in a New Song

136265502
Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes performs at the Falls Music Festival in Australia in 2011.

Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Two days ago Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold began tweeting about an apparent breakup with his girlfriend (the tweets have since been deleted), and the very next day he posted a new song about it. The new song, “Olivia, In a Separate Bed,” is a direct address to his real-life love also named Olivia, and repeatedly calls her out by name. You can listen in on the intimate exchange via the embed below.

Over at NPR, Bob Boilen writes that the whole thing “strikes [him] as odd—tweeting about a breakup, writing a song and posting it online.” I agree that listening to “Olivia, In a Separate Bed” is a strange experience, but these intimate songs, almost instantly released, seem less odd every day. While such autobiographical openhearted emoting might seem typical of a singer like Pecknold—bearded, sighing behind an acoustic guitar—it’s arguably more common in recent rap and R&B. The most prominent examples of this kind of “oversharing”—a useful, but perhaps overly judgmental term—come from stars like Kanye and, especially, Drake. On tracks like “Take Care,” Drake pleads openly with former darlings, while elsewhere he, just like Pecknold, calls exes out by name.

Advertisement

Raw, autobiographical songs are nothing new, of course—among the classic examples are much of Blood on the Tracksand some uncomfortably intimate tunes from John Lennon—but both the immediacy and the intimacy are compounded by the prevalence of home recording and social media. The enormously talented Pecknold and Drake are each only 25 years old, meaning that they probably spent at least some of their adolescence sharing personal details online—and that seems to show here. Not only did the track debut on Twitter, the same platform Pecknold used to vent the day before, but listeners are also responding in real time via SoundCloud, just as scores did when Jay-Z bared his own heart on the surprisingly immediate release “Glory,” which featured audio of his newborn  baby.

Olivia, In a Separate Bed” strikes me as far from one of Pecknold’s better songs—his best compositions probably took more than a day’s impassioned reverie. But if a listen to it makes you want to snatch and smash Pecknold’s guitar, keep in mind that this might not be some passing self-indulgence. It could become the new norm.

Update, Feb. 24, 2012: Both the song and Pecknold's Twitter account are now unavailable, and he appears to have taken them down.

Previously:
Jay-Z’s “Glory,” and 5 Other Great Songs About Postpartum Euphoria
Other Pop Songs in Which Beds Are Used to Symbolize Feelings of Loss

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.