Arlo Parks is a singer and songwriter from London. In January 2021, she released her debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams. It hit number three on the UK charts, and she won this year’s BRIT award for Breakthrough Artist. Last year, NME called her song "Black Dog" the year’s "most devastating song." In this episode, Anaïs breaks down “Black Dog," which she made with producer Gianluca Buccellati. ("But I just call him Luca.") Here’s Arlo Parks on Song Exploder.
If you’re thinking about suicide, or if you have a friend who is, or if you just need someone to talk to right now, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to 741-741, which is the Crisis Text Line. If you're outside of the U.S., check out the list of international hotlines at suicide.org.
For more about “Black Dog,” visit songexploder.net/arlo-parks
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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let you know that the song being discussed is about some
who's alive and well today, but was going through
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Arlo Parks as a singer and songwriter for London in January, two thousand twenty one sure released or debut album collapsed and sunbeams it at number three on the UK charts and she won this year's Brit Award for breakthrough artist last year
me called her song black dog, the years most devastating song in this episode she breaks down black dog, which he made with producer John look up which Lahti that I call him LUCA here's.
Arlo Parks on song exploder. My name is auto parts
I started working on this song when I was still at school. I was eighteen at the time and
I remember coming to this apartment that my manager actually had in Central London.
king on the song with LUCA at the time.
I've been listening to Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens,
I have been writing all these little damage on guitar and
wanted to create something that had this minimal guitar based feel, and I
I have to the apartment on LUCA just started, working on this very minimal guitar lip with those
I was like. Oh, this is exactly what I wanted and I didn't even have to tell you.
That I like to watch is starting from whether it's a sin
Europe cannot work at all. It has to be spas.
won't be too much going on around it. Otherwise I lose the thread
and I immediately felt transported.
It seemed like there was this real sense of melancholy, this real sense of nostalgia and because it was so sparse and so minimal, it felt like it provided the perfect backdrop for going into labor
that were quite complicated and dark eyes
going through a lot
the time and just all kind of
spilled out with me in that moment,.
The song surrounds my best friend
We'd been friends since we were fourteen, we met in spanish class and she
there's really struggling with deep
the passion and anxiety and seeing how struggling was really kind of
putting this sense of heaviness. In my heart- and I didn't know how to help her on it.
At this song to kind of speak about
what she was living, but through my eyes, I have
in this poem that I had written kind of about her situation and
the foundation, I guess of the song. Would you be open to reading the poem yeah? Of course,.
You promised you'd be there in the morning and I only half believed you because last time you said that you almost want. I should
forgotten that by now, but I remember, there was a way
been a part of you, some little agony, Smith,
is hot and painful. Something
I could not touch,
I hear the smile in your voice today, though,
string of dark red silk. So soft,
faint and rather well.
Did it come from.
for months it seemed the curtains were always closed. It seems
like you were always angry at me and tide of yourself, it seemed
like he wouldn't survive this ignore
in the jewel of hype. Behind my right eye rolling
onto your side to crush a tear with the side of your rest, like a tie,
in blue flower
we were also scared.
I think, I'd written that poem, maybe a week before for the past,
Month, I think you know things had been really bad and I've been writing about a law.
But I guess I had this fear surrounding putting it in a song. It was something that felt very private and very painful, but
at the time I was thinking about Alison and it just fine.
well like the right moment, because I felt like I was. I was really in it and I wanted to be honest, and I wanted to speak about what I was living on
for some reason. That day was some kind of alchemy and I was like okay
I'm going to try and sing about this
chords and I always kind of singing the melodies in my head
I'm not lying I'd like the grief right off your lips,
into my head.
I do have I would take that pain onto myself if it would free you in some way, if it would make you feel better
and immediately. I was thinking to myself. Ok, I'm in a creative, as that feels very dense. You know, I'm gonna feel
with imagery and
to feel almost overwhelming. Oh, I want to kind of package.
with as much rich content as I can, and then I was
all these different things and then I thought to myself actually know. Maybe it needs space
Honestly, it's tough
I was pacing around the room, just
in writing riding in my head and humming to myself as
kind of laid down the job
and the pace on it was almost like building a body. You know the base gave it feat and the drums gave it bones and then the synth I mean it sounds very wishy washy, but it almost felt like the soul. It almost felt like that thing that you can't quite grasp and as the elements were added, I found it very exciting, because something I had probably initially envisaged does just guitar and voice gathered this real body to it and it felt like it really supported the idea in the way that I sang things and that's why I really love working with LUCA, because we both have a very similar sense of when we need to add things and when we don't so, I really trusted the way that he went with it.
and then I went into the pre course. I guess building up the picture that sense of desperation. I would do anything let's go here. Let's do this. I want to get you out of this. Somehow,
Do you all being eaten,
comical with my language is something that makes me a better writer, because I'm full
to go right to the heart of what I mean,
for me. It was about going,
the core of the friendship and idea of care it was like. I would do it
need to get you out of your room and I remember saying those words to hire as well.
I saw this cartoon that described depression as this dog
you carry around with you and sometimes it bites and its a bit feral, and sometimes it sleeps all creeps up on you when you're not expecting it, and then the law
asked frame of the cartoon is
all these different people in the park with their different dogs,
following them around, and I guess there was that notion of you know
well alone, and it gets
To this point also, whether person has learnt to kind of tame that.
Odin learned that doing
retain or going for walks. The dog ends up sleeping for most of the day in that kind of gradual,
progression to this.
The message I dunno it just spoke to me- and I remember writing down that phrase- black dog in my notebook and as I was
king through the book to find
poem that I knew I wanted to base the lyrics about? Then? I remember just seeing not briefly in
and then, when you got me what I wanted it to be called that just made sense.
The I love when the vocals feel like that intimate when it feels like that one most being sung into your air. I want it to feel like I'm sitting beside you, as I sang. I remember, recording this with a lump in my throat on the verge of tears, and so it wasn't so much of a performance it was more just like
In this right now, you know when I write a song,
all the emotions bubble to the surface and come out through my voice
I said no, you,
backing; vocals, always the last piece of it. So I added
BB's on the chorus to create something that felt very
soaring and gooey and free juxtaposed with that drum them
quite plodding and grounded
cool, I think
just leave that higher it so is like one of my favorite backing vocals to I've ever done,
and they just getting high up in my register for that moment, and it just felt right.
To be somebody's guardian angel and just sweep them out of whatever their feeling that kind of knowing deep down that is not possible,
and we just sat back and played it really really loud on the speakers and I
like this way had been lifted. I felt this sense of stoners.
At the end of the song? Does this
daughter. Guitar Holic
and the song slowly fades away into the distance. I'm a big fan of the fade out.
It offers whoever's listening a moment to kind of pre than taken.
What they've just heard
Think I wanted it to end in a way that was
quiet and gentle almost in a as you listen to the song you get transported and then you get gently drop back down where you started. Hopefully,.
Those feelings of darkness and depression will also left, and I guess
That was my way of introducing a bit of hope into it, and did you end up sending the song to friends
yeah. I sent this song to as a text or something like
I wrote this for you. I wrote this about you
I had been sending her demos since I was fourteen
and so only felt
that I share this one with as well
I think the fact that now as well, she is doing so much better and is
it's and has
it's lust for life. I think it will most
makes the song even more special to me because it's the pain,
I was changing and it does and and that you know you will get through these difficult things and now
here's black dog by Arlo Parks in its entirety,.
visit song, exploder dot net to learn more,
you'll find links to buy or stream black dog, and you can watch
he's video and again, if
having thoughts about suicide. If you work
got someone or you'd like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available. Twenty four seven
There are some links with more information on this area
It's page on the song exploder website and in the show notes for this episode
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.