Butch Walker’s Complicated ‘American Love Story’
May 22, 2020 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this month singer/songwriter/producer Butch Walker released the rock opera (or concept album if you prefer) that he wrote in the wake of Trump's election and the horrifying events in Charlottesville VA back in 2017. He originally shelved it because he didn't think he could tour or promote around it given that it's a concept album and some songs don't make much sense individually, and in fact can be downright offensive if taken out of context. But since we are stuck at home with time to invest in listening to the whole story...

American Love Story has a number of intentionally stereotypical characters — a hate-spewing father, a bullied gay kid, a vapid girl named Paris — but the protagonist is Bo, who undergoes a seismic transformation after the gay classmate he tormented at school ends up saving his life. In lesser hands, the tale could be disastrous, but Walker tells it with grace, infusing poignancy with humor and setting it all to some impeccable songs. Sonically, it evokes the most accessible of Eighties rock and pop, and the singer-songwriter-producer played every instrument on the album.

The Rolling Stone article that is the source of the above quote.

I'll link to a couple of singles from the album, but you should really experience as the full story. Butch released a 43-minute video "movie" to help you do that.

Gridlock

Flyover State
posted by COD (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the Rolling Stone piece, about Flyover State:
“I started getting attacked online by people going, ‘Oh, great, just condescending, fucking Hollywood elitist, blah, blah, blah,'” Walker says. “It really triggered a lot of bros and a lot of people that were just thinking that I was attacking and being self-righteous. It’s like, ‘No, there you go, that’s part of the problem. That’s why I wrote this record.’ It’s because people just take it at face value and they hear a couple of words that are trigger words in the lyrics, and they immediately judge.”
This is part of the problem - we are being trained to respond to sound bites instead of getting the whole story.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]


I'm a deep and life-long fan of "the album" as a format and prefer when an album works all together as a theme and exploration of a set of artistic ideals. Of course, the pinnacle of this art form should be the concept album. And sometimes they really do come out right and brilliant. I'll be happy to give this one a listen. Thanks for posting! I'll be back later with a strong opinion. :P
posted by hippybear at 6:30 PM on May 22


Wow, the sonic landscape on this can be really complex at times.

And did he really do "freedom dumb my way"???

You know, honestly, this is the same trouble that Randy Newman got into a lot before he was a Pixas darling. He's write songs from imagined persona perspective, and people would assume it was his own voice speaking.

I'm going to continue listening. This is fun. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 11:19 PM on May 22


The number of goosebumps and grumbles are maybe even tears this has given across the first 3/4 is higher than expected. I recommend.
posted by hippybear at 11:41 PM on May 22


And Imma peace out here with 9 minutes to go and listen without comment. I'm enjoying this. It's a strong album. It's worth the journey.
posted by hippybear at 11:43 PM on May 22


I lied. The ending was beautiful. Thank you. Downloaded on iTunes to have as a part of my library.
posted by hippybear at 11:52 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Revisiting tonight. Good stuff. Wish more had engaged with this post because this album is a real quality novel worth its time.
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on May 23


I've been a Butch Walker fan since his Marvelous 3 days - but I'm not surprised this post didn't get much action. The guy is insanely talented and has made a fortune writing and producing for the biggest acts in the country, but his solo career is very much a labor of love as it gets no commercial traction.
posted by COD at 9:17 AM on May 24


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