Dan Bejar is something of a musical polymath. He releases albums as the front man for Destroyer while collaborating with the New Pornographers and playing as a member of indie supergroup Swan Lake. Bejar’s music contains myriad allusions to pop songs and contemporary literature, in addition to tongue-in-cheek wordplay (“She had the best legs in a business built for kicks”). He’s also the only musician I know of with a song about a certain publishing house.
Chapman: I have to get this out of the way: Is there a story behind naming the song “Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)”?
Dan Bejar: Ten years ago I was thinking of making an album whose song titles were all named after established American publishing houses. I don’t know why, it was maybe based on the idea of rejection, or social failure. Also, they all sounded so archaic to me, like books themselves, and therefore pretty mysterious. I was into enclosed sets of terms back then, though I was coming out of it, which is probably why I ditched the idea. The album ended up being called Streethawk: A Seduction, and the song titles were all over place, though FS&G stuck. I now just generally call it by its parenthetical title “(Sea of Tears).” I guess ten years later I like things in their simplest, saddest terms. Still think Farrar, Straus and Giroux rolls off the tongue real pretty, though.
Audio: “Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)”
(Courtesy of Merge Records)
Chapman: There are a handful of musicians who strike fans as “literary,” whatever that word means in this context. You quote Ezra Pound, Albert Camus, and others in your songs, and the settings recall Graham Greene, Roberto Bolaño, even Borges. Are there certain literary antecedents you’d like to discuss? Put another way, do you have writers you read and reread?