Laura Jane Grace records new song “Park Life Forever” with her daughter: Stream

Against Me! singer/guitarist Laura Jane Grace has shared a sweet and simple new song called “Park Life Forever”. Featuring guest vocals from her own daughter, Evelyn, the track recalls the summer the two spent together enjoying their neighborhood parks. “I’ve got a book to read/ I know you’ll make quick friends,” the pair sing in adorable harmony. “Ice cream cart bell’s ringing/ Two-ball screwballs for these two goofballs.” Take a listen below.

Grace recorded “Park Life Forever” on the new Spire portable recording device from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based iZotope. For a look at how the tiny studio tool helped her track and mix the tune, check out the pair of following videos, which serve respectively as music video and mini-documentary.

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Taron Egerton to play Elton John in forthcoming biopic Rocketman

As Elton John gears up for his massive farewell tour, a biopic about the legendary musician is in the works over at Paramount Pictures. Entitled Rocketman, the film will star Taron Egerton (Kingsman) in the titular role, according to Variety.

Dexter Fletcher, who recently replaced Bryan Singer as director of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will also helm this project using a script written by Lee Hall. Matthew Vaughn will produce the film alongside John.

Filming is scheduled to begin this summer.

Previously, Tom Hardy was attached to play John in a film directed by Michael Gracey. At the time it was reported that John planned to re-record many of his hit songs for the film. Given John’s involvement in Rocketman, one can assume John still intends to follow through with those plans.

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10 Comedy Sequels That Got It Right

It’s no secret that Hollywood has become an industry of reboots, rehashes, and revisits.

In a town depressingly bereft of fresh ideas and increasingly adverse to risk, the sequel, and ultimately the franchise, has become the smart bet. Broken Lizard’s new joint, Super Troopers 2, may not fit the big-studio mold with its indie budget and crowd-sourcing background, but it still faces the same challenge as any sequel: familiarity tends to put cans in seats, but it doesn’t always make for the greatest movies.

In fact, judging by the difficulty we had in finding 10 films we all agreed should be on this list, the comedy sequel (especially a pure comedy that skips the heartstring tugging) might be the hardest genre in which to catch lightning in a liter of cola twice. A long hiatus doesn’t historically bode well either (**cough** Dumb and Dumber To), even in our nostalgia-ravenous times.

That being said, here’s hoping our favorite syrup-chugging coppers can defy the odds, years, and diabetes to bring us another one of the few, the proud, the comedy sequels that got it right. Move along, meow.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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10. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

Conventional wisdom suggests that you can only beat the box office once by sending a pair of slackers on a time-traveling kidnapping spree in order to pass a history report. So, what did Bill and Ted creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon do to follow up — and some would argue one-up — their original long-shot comedy smash? They joyfully cranked the dial from absurd to WTF.

While Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure challenges its dimwitted duo to crack the books (via telephone booth), date gorgeous 15th century princesses, and commit to band practice for the betterment of the universe, Bogus Journey pits its heroes against no less than Death, Satan, and Joss Ackland in order to preserve the future utopian society their music has brought into being.

All of which sets the stage for inspired silliness like a trip to our heroes’ own personalized Hells (“Dude, we totally got lied to by our album covers.”) and a brilliant Seventh Seal send-up that hilariously reminds us that everyone must eventually play the reaper — sometimes best of seven. The only question is where can the promised third installment possibly go from WTF? Station.

Best of the New Batch: William Sadler as Death quickly goes from Melvin’d adversary to rockin’ ally — not to mention Wyld Stallyns bassist — and can be found creeping nearby most of the film’s best gags.

–Matt Melis

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09. Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)

Naked-Gun-Cast

The title alone tells you that few understand sequels, spoofs, and general silliness better than Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker, the guilty parties behind Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.

After saving the Queen of England from being assassinated by Reggie Jackson (yeah, you read that right), Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and the Police Squad! gang return to stop Robert Goulet (well, Quentin Hapsburg) from a kidnapping bent on enriching big oil and “beautiful, clean” coal companies.

It’s a plot just thin enough to allow Nielsen another chance to brilliantly bumble and tough-talk his way through danger, Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) to venture through another fun house of pain, and the writers to insert their leading man and lady (Priscilla Presley) into a series of hilarious parodies, from the classic Psycho shower slaying to the sexy vase-sculpting scene from Ghost.

It’s a gag-a-second throwback to a time when men were men, women were often men themselves (see the third installment), and sharp writing and great physical comedy proved that dumb could be the smartest thing going.

Best of the New Batch: You can’t have a great caper without a criminal, and Goulet’s dastardly slime ball, Hapsburg, is just the type of white-collar crook that Frank likes to put a hurting on. I mean, not the kind of hurt you feel from jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing, but still.

–Matt Melis

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08. Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

waynes world 2 10 Comedy Sequels That Got It Right

The sequel to Wayne’s World never should have worked. Penelope Spheeris wasn’t invited back. The initial idea of having Wayne and Garth forming their own country a la 1949’s Passport to Pimlico was scrapped last minute due to legal mumbo jumbo. And, well, it’s a comedy sequel to a movie that had no reason to be so great and iconic.

But, it came and saw and hurled again, sending our two public access hosts on a rock and roll journey through pop culture … with Christopher Walken on their tail. Unlike the original, the sequel feels a little more anarchic, relying less on narrative and capitalizing on homages and visual gags. The fact that the entire ending is one incredibly long riff on The Graduate speaks to this notion.

At times, you can almost see Mike Myers or Dana Carvey making the shit up on the spot — you know, kind of like that Waynestock bit which tips off the film’s narrative — and that’s the beauty of the movie. It’s so self aware and so meta, but it’s never showy about it. Instead, Wayne’s World 2 leans back on the couch and lets the chaotic party unfold one gag at a time. Game on.

The Best of the New Batch: Ralph Brown’s Del Preston is a marvel. His story about the sweet shoppe and “that great big Bengal tiger” — his only story, really — is one of the funniest recurring gags in the short-lived franchise.

–Michael Roffman

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07. 22 Jump Street (2014)

22 jump street e1524099761689 10 Comedy Sequels That Got It Right

When 21 Jump Street surprised everyone by turning out to be not just good, but great, pressure mounted for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to match that effortless comic timing and breathless series of meta-jokes about adapting a creaky, decades-old show to the screen.

Then along came 22 Jump Street, which surprised us again, peppering in plenty of well-delivered jabs at everything from college movies to action movie sequels, shaking up the formula while maintaining Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s beautiful bromance.

The whole thing’s great, and infinitely rewatchable, but it belongs on this list alone for the incredible post-credits montage of the endless sequels – 35 Jump Street: Traffic School, Jump Street Generations – Hollywood would insist upon them.

Both movies feel like magic in a bottle, but it’s 22 Jump Street that solidified Lord and Miller’s comic chops as more than a fluke.

Best of the New Batch: It’s great to see a pre-American Vandal Jimmy Tatro, but the award has to go to Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) as the sensitive jock Zook, and his wonderfully meta ‘meat q-tip’ with C-Tates.

–Clint Worthington

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06. Shrek 2 (2004)

Shrek 2

Shrek charmed audiences worldwide by shining a modern light on classic fairy tales and finding silliness and humor (for both children and adults) in stories many of us have known by heart since we were wee ones.

The sequel largely doubles down on that formula — carving out an original tale in a world populated by the fairy tale characters we know so well — by casting Prince Charming as the other man, Fiona’s Fairy Godmother as more of a Godfather type (she’ll make you a potion you can’t refuse), and Shrek’s father-in-law, King Harold (John Cleese!), as a sire with a secret.

If the original’s happily-ever-after tale taught us that true beauty is on the inside, then this fairy follow-up finds Shrek, Fiona, and even Donkey learning that happily ever after lasts, well, ever after, and there’ll always be some bumps along the way.

It all makes for more high adventure, hilarious hijinks, and plenty of playful satire as the trio make the journey to the materialistic, image-obsessed kingdom of Hollywo… um, Far, Far Away and foil the thuggish Godmother’s plot with the help of some new friends.

Best of the New Batch: While much of the film hinge’s on the hubris of Cleese’s king, nobody knows how to make an entrance into a franchise quite like Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots … cough, cough … hairball. Nasty.

–Matt Melis

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Liz Phair shares demo “Bomb”, an early version of “Stratford-On-Guy”: Stream

Liz Phair will celebrate the 25th anniversary of her landmark debut album, Exile in Guyville, next month. On May 4th, she’ll deliver her massive Girly-Sound to Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Setwhich features a remastered version of the 1993 record as well as the first ever restored audio re-releases of the three demo cassettes Phair made under the name Girly-Sound. Today, she’s shared a peek at one of those updated tapes with the Sooty track “Bomb”.

Originally recorded in 1991, “Bomb” would later be revisited for Guyville as “Stratford-On-Guy”. Here, it’s a layered, lo-fi alternative track, hardly hinting at the dirtier sound Phair would adopt later on. Even the chorus is something more twee, with Phair singing, “I said look/ Look to your left, passengers/ Look, look to your right/ You can pretend that you’re here from outer space/ But this is your very first sight.” It still has its darker moments, though, as when the hook’s lyrics change for the final refrain: “Look to your right/ Cause I’m gonna take this plane out in less than five minutes/ And this is your very last sight.”

Take a listen below.

https://tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/song/1368198027?country=us
https://open.spotify.com/embed?uri=spotify:track:0iInUMrkWaGGUkPwIY1Ntk

Phair has also shared the remastered version of “Stratford-On-Guy”, as well as a digitally updated version of the single’s music video. Describing the creation of the visuals in a press release, Phair said,

“We were in talks with labels about the second record – Matador was being courted by Atlantic – and Danny Goldberg came backstage to meet me. I told him about my idea for the next video – ‘Stratford-On-Guy’ – explaining that we were stalled due to budget constraints. He asked, ‘What do you need?’ I said, ‘A private plane to fly over downtown LA and get footage at night.’ I wanted to shoot the electric veins of the city. He just said, ‘Done!’ It was one of those real rock star moments.

So my husband, his friend Michael Mees, who was the DP, and I went up in this 8 seater Leer jet and got the greatest footage ever. We were literally flying sideways so Michael could shoot straight down over the rooftops of all the buildings. We were executing these tight turns above the skyscrapers and the G force was incredible. You could feel your internal organs dragging to the other side of your body cavity. Michael was using this really heavy camera and Jim, my husband, had to hold onto him as we shot. The lens of the camera was pressing down against the window pane and I remember Michael nervously joking – and not really in jest – that the glass beneath him better hold. It was so fun. We made two approaches into the airport so we could capture that fantastic runway lighting. Those images are etched in my memory forever. I seem to recall I somehow wedged my head up between the pilots like a dog peering over the backseat so I could see that awesome 180* cockpit view, too. Good times!”

Check out the clip below.

Phair is also embarking on a US tour during which she’ll play songs from her Girly-Sound tapes live for the first time. Find those dates here.

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Prince’s death investigation concludes with no criminal charges

The two-year investigation into Prince’s death has concluded without criminal charges.

Prince died of a fentanyl drug overdose on April 21st, 2016 at the age of 57.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Carver Country district attorney, Mark Metz, said there was “no reliable evidence of how Prince obtained” the fatal drug, according to the New York Times.  “We have no direct evidence that a specific person provided the fentanyl to Prince,” Metz said, adding that the investigation uncovered “no sinister motive, intent or conspiracy to murder Prince.”

Though he was not charged, Prince’s one-time doctor, Michael Schulenberg, has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation, his lawyer announced. Dr. Schulenberg previously told investigators that he had prescribed an opiate painkiller to the singer in someone else’s name to protect Prince’s privacy. As part of the settlement, Dr. Schulenberg admitted no liability and maintained he did not prescribe drugs to anyone with the intention they be redirected to Prince.

This is a developing story…

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Touché Amoré return with “Green”, their first new single in two years: Stream

Burbank hardcore titans Touché Amoré have spent the past decade weaving more and more melody into Jeremy Bolm’s emphatic barks, with 2016’s Stage Four finding the band firing on all cylinders. Now, they’ve returned with their first new single in two years, the scorching, emotional “Green”.

Mixed by Ken Andrews of Failure, the song finds Bolm spiraling into a maelstrom of despair: “Keep me close, or else I’m out of control/ Call for attention, this is critical,” he screams. Check it below:

The single’s release coincides with the band’s current tour with Turnstile and Culture Abuse. A press statement notes Touché Amoré has surpassed more than 1,000 live shows, and, as we’ve written about in the past, it shows in their thrilling live show.

The tour rolls through San Francisco tonight and wraps up in Boston in early May. Check out the full list of dates below, and grab tickets here.

Touché Amoré 2018 Tour Dates:
04/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall *
04/21 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory *
04/22 – Tucson, AZ @ The Rock *
04/24 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda *
04/25 – Dallas, TX @ RBC *
04/26 – Houston, TX @ Houston Undrgrnd *
04/27 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon *
04/28 – Tampa, FL @ Crowbar *
04/29 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn Birmingham *
04/30 – Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone *
05/01 – Nashville, TN @ The End *
05/02 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade *
05/04 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar *
05/05 – New York, NY @ Warsaw Concerts *
05/06 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts *
05/07 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club *
06/22-24 – Scheeßel and Tuttlingen, DE @ Hurricane & Southside Music Festivals
06/30-07/07 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival

* = w/ Turnstile and Culture Abuse

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Franz Ferdinand deliver wild performance of “Feel the Love Go” on Colbert: Watch

Earlier this week, Franz Ferdinand celebrated their first album in five years, Always Ascending, with a pair of sold out gigs at New York’s Brooklyn Steel. The Scottish indie rockers stuck around the city to keep the party going with an appearance on Colbert.

(Read: The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018)

And party they did. Franz Ferdinand delivered a wild performance of “Feel the Love Go”, with frontman Alex Kapranos bouncing about the stage with unrelenting energy. Adding to the mix was former Contortions leader and no wave pioneer James Chance, who brought along some ripping sax solos (played while on his knees!).

Catch the replay below.

Franz Ferdinand have plenty of more tour dates to come this summer, including appearances at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Lollapalooza, and the Netherlands’ Down the Rabbit Hole. Find their complete itinerary here, and grab tickets here.

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Here’s the first poster for David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s Halloween sequel

Halloween is approaching. Kind of. Not really. Nevertheless, we’re exactly six months away from October 19th today, and to celebrate, Blumhouse has dropped the first official poster for David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s forthcoming reboot/sequel.

Instagram Photo

As you can see, we’re getting a Michael Myers who’s a little older, a little wiser, which is exciting. Also exciting is the plot that star Jamie Lee Curtis teased: “In exactly six months, after exactly 40 years, Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield but Laurie Strode has been waiting for him.”

Or perhaps it’s not that exciting. After all, didn’t we see that story, um, 20 years ago with Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later? Pretty much. In fact, that whole premise was built around the conceit that her troubled teen spirit had been shattered by her tough-as-nails adult vengeance. So, yeah, kind of redundant.

(Read: Here’s How You Make a Great Halloween Sequel)

Then again, who knows. All we can say for certain is that this movie’s ignoring every sequel (thank god), original director John Carpenter is back for another creepy score (spooky), and that the mask, as we can see above, is pretty, pretty… pretty good (phew).

But we’ll know on October 19th. Until then, celebrate All Hallow’s Eve with us every month as we revisit each film in the Halloween franchise on our new limited series podcast, Halloweenies. So far, we’ve carved out the first two films, which you can listen to below.

https://player.megaphone.fm/ADL3940458687?
https://player.megaphone.fm/ADL6487400467?

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Sam Himself gives a Track by Track breakdown of his new EP, Nobody: Stream

Our recurring new music feature Track by Track finds an artists digging into the gritty details of each track on their latest effort.

“If you’ve ever chased a dream and bet the farm on it, you know the moments of deep doubt that come with true commitment,” Sam Himself says in a press release. Transplanted the relative quiet of his native Switzerland to the hustle and bustle of New York, the indie rocker knows what it’s like to experience that crippling uncertainty. Everyone must find their own way through that darkness, and for Sam Himself, his escape became his sophomore EP, Nobody.

Due out on April 20th, Nobody is six tracks that punch through insecurity with anthemic vigor. Sam Himself uses a vocal power somewhere between The National’s Matt Berninger and San Fermin’s Allen Tate to sing songs of finding your place, especially in the vastness of his adopted hometown (“About a Place”, “New York Decisions”). Musically, he delves into classic, synth-y indie sounds while adding a touch of Americana spirit. The result often splits the difference between Twin Shadow and Darkness on the Edge of Town, as on the simmering “Nobody” or the throbbing “Heartphones”.

Each composition finds Sam Himself wrestling with some form of hesitancy, as if he’s questioning whether he’s able to write the very song to which you’re listening. Yet every time, he fights through those dubious notions to arrive at a tenderly represented bit of dark honesty. Ahead of the official release, you can listen to it all unfold below.

For more insight into the emotional and creative effort that went into Nobody, Sam Himself has broken down each song Track by Track.

“199X”:
We were a few days into a longer session at Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn. We had already cut one or two of the other tracks on the EP, and the rest of the musicians had left for the day. It was just me and producer Daniel Schlett, listening to my demo of “199X” together. The version I played him was sort of a gothy rockabilly track, very Suicide, with a programmed beat, lots of slap delay and all kinds of staccato. I also sang in this hysterical falsetto for some reason. It wasn’t all that easy on the ears. I knew there was a decent song in there, though, and eventually, in one of his frequent moments of genius, Daniel said something like, “Just play it for me, forget the weird beat and all that, just take a guitar, play the chords, and sing it in your own voice.” It felt like one of those VH1 Behind the Music moments. We got it right in about five minutes and the next day we recorded it with the band.

With “199X” I tried to write a song about my generation, by which I mean kids born sometime during the early ’90s. We seem to suffer from a particular kind of entitlement, and the music community is no exception. It’s a monstrous sense of desert that keeps us up at night, but we mistake it for ambition or goal-orientedness or some other SoulCycle virtue. Without humility or perspective, we become fanatical about what we think the world owes us, usually wealth or fame or both. If I had to sum up the song in a single moment, it would be overhearing someone say, “If I don’t get such and such, I’m literally gonna kill myself.” People actually say that — like, literally. Now, I’m certainly not trying to lecture anyone. I just think there’s an important difference between taking your craft seriously and taking yourself seriously. Unfortunately, that difference is lost on a lot of people my age.

“Nobody”:
Fun fact: I started writing “Nobody” as a country ballad in open G tuning. Then I realized it had to be upbeat, something you could dance to, because the song is ultimately a celebration. When I moved to New York from Switzerland, I knew I was in for a bit of shell shock, but I had no idea just how big of a pond I was plunging into. Where I’m from, if you’re in a band and you’re not a complete mess, chances are someone will hear you eventually. Here, no one cared. And I mean nobody. I felt like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. There I was, within arm’s length of this great community of musicians, unable to get a foot in the door, not even a toe. That wasn’t easy at first. But instead of giving up, I gradually began to embrace the freedom my outsider status afforded me. If no one knows your name, you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want. I think that’s empowering. I think that calls for a little celebratory dance.

https://embed.vevo.com?isrc=QMGR31895111

“Bad as a Mile”:
This is the first song on the EP that features backing vocals by Denitia Odigie, my dear friend and an amazing musician I’ve been working with for a long time. The drum machine in the intro is a remnant of the song’s demo. I usually program beats before I hand them over to Parker Kindred’s magic touch behind the kit.

“Bad as a Mile” started with the words, which is rare for me. The name and theme of the song are inspired by a short poem by Philip Larkin, one of my favorite poets (this is the part where I subtly convey that I’m hella bookish). The poem, I think, is about regret. That’s what the song is about too: having, losing, reliving over and over again. I’d love to be more specific, but regret is such an elusive, shape-shifting colossus to me, I probably wouldn’t do a good job at it. Think of it this way: When someone says, “no regrets, bro,” and does that surfer thing with their thumb and pinkie? The opposite of that.

“About a Place”:
I might as well just keep it highbrow at this point. The first line of this song, “The view from nowhere sees it all,” I owe to the philosopher Thomas Nagel. He wrote a book called The View from Nowhere. You’re probably better off googling it, because I’m on very thin ice here, but in the book he describes the human ability to occupy a vantage point that goes beyond personal experience and is in some sense detached from the world. To me, that idea had a strong emotional resonance. It reminded me of a familiar place of bottoming out and feeling beyond miserable, just catatonically down, where the world around you and the people in it have nothing to do with you anymore. You see it all with nauseating clarity from a distance you can’t imagine ever crossing again. You’re done.

So that was a pretty heavy bag I dragged into the studio, but when Denitia, Teeny Lieberson and her sister Lizzie (of TEEN) sang their harmonies over it, something came full circle. Something gave. I had to, like, walk around the block afterwards. That’s why I do what I do.

Sam Himself -- Nobody EP

“Heartphones”:
One of the things I love about “Heartphones” is that it highlights the spectacular rhythm section of the EP, namely drummer Parker Kindred and bass player Josh Werner, two of the finest musicians I’ve ever known. They’ve been holding it down with me ever since my first record in New York, god knows why. The song’s bridge is always one of my favorite parts of the set when we play live. Just listen to it at a high volume. That’s hard. That’s a concrete bridge.

At some point during the writing process (whatever the hell that is) of this EP, I had a minor epiphany of sorts. The songs I write are pop songs, structurally speaking. They have verses, choruses, even bridges, all that good stuff. And pop songs are love songs. That’s not to say that there aren’t pop songs about all kinds of other things, but in its essential form, the pop song is a love song. (I stand by that, now let the comment section trolling begin!) So I tried to use that form to write about something other than romance. Instead, I wanted to capture a moment of self-doubt, in which you interrogate yourself about how much you really want the things you want and how much you’re willing to sacrifice for them; how brave you are, deep down, in the face of real resistance. “Heartphones” is a love song about doing what you love. But don’t get me wrong, if you’re in a bad way romantically and driving around late at night, by all means, put that shit on!

“New York Decisions”:
“New York Decisions” is the first tune I ever wrote on piano, except I couldn’t play the piano at the time. I’m still not much of a pianist, but back then I was physically unable to play more than a handful of basic chords. I don’t think there’s more than one black key in the entire song. Hence the demo I made was a fairly boring ’70s ballad, complete with lounge lizard drums and sappy guitars. It sounded like something straight out of the back catalogue of a certain Madison Square Garden regular with two first names. Cue producer extraordinaire Daniel Schlett, who just kept stripping away from the song and slimming it down like a mad dietician until only my voice and the piano were left. We finally took a break from it and Daniel messed with it at home. Before we picked it back up together, he played me this Alice Coltrane record and somehow managed to draw a connection to the little ballad we were working on. I trusted him, I always do, and we took it from there. I’ve made plenty of questionable New York decisions in my time, but this one wasn’t so bad.

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Benjamin Gibbard performs his Beatles reimagining, “And I Love Him”, on Conan: Watch

Earlier this month, MGM Resorts released Universal Love, a compilation EP featuring classic wedding songs reworked for same-sex couples. Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, Kesha, and Kele Okereke of Bloc Party all contributed, as did Ben Gibbard. Last night, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman appeared on Conan to perform his contribution to the release.

Gibbard performed his update of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her”, which he reworked to become “And I Love Him”. Essentially, it’s the same tender track we all love from 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night, just with a pronoun change. Check out the sweet performance below.

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