Big Red Machine have released “Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell)”, the fourth track off their newest album, How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? due out August 27th on Jagjaguwar / 37d03d.
Keeping with the collaborative energy behind Big Red Machine, “Phoenix” was co-written by Aaron Dessner, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold, Justin Vernon and Anaïs Mitchell with co-production credit for both Pecknold and Dessner. “Phoenix” marks the first collaboration between Pecknold and Big Red Machine.
“‘Phoenix’ was one of the last songs we wrote for this record,” Aaron Dessner shares. “I was thinking about The Band and the Grateful Dead… maybe imagining this Big Red Machine album was some version of The Last Waltz. Justin first heard it while driving and immediately the chorus melody came into his head. I shared the sketch with Robin Pecknold, who I’ve been a fan of forever and who I’d been dreaming would join us on this record. Robin wrote the verses and pre-chorus as a kind of dialogue with Justin, recalling a conversation they once had backstage in Phoenix. Later Anais wrote words to the chorus and the Westerlies added their magic to the instrumental. JT Bates rumbles around in rare form on the drums on this song. I think it’s what I always imagined Big Red Machine would sound like.”
“It was a high, high honor to work on this song, and beyond that it was a really interesting creative challenge,” commented Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold. “Justin’s vocals and the beautiful chorus were already in place before I got my hands on it, so I felt my job melodically and lyrically was to set his entrance up in the best possible way. I felt like a pilgrim putting questions to an elusive sage, not needing clear answers, but happy for the chance to ask.”
On How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, many of Dessner’s previous collaborators and friends show up for him here, continuing the reciprocal exchange of ideas that has come to define his creative community. Songs feature guest vocals and writing contributions from artist friends including Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold (“Phoenix”), Ben Howard and This Is The Kit (“June’s a River”), Naeem (“Easy to Sabotage’), Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova (“Hutch,” a tune inspired by Dessner’s late friend, Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison) and Swift herself (“Birch” and “Renegade”; the latter was recorded in Los Angeles at the Kitty Committee studio in March 2021, the same week Swift and Dessner took home the GRAMMY for Album of the Year for folklore). His brother Bryce Dessner provided orchestration.
“This is all music I initially generated and feel emotionally connected to, but it has been very interesting to hear how different people relate to it and how different voices collide with it,” says Dessner, who for the first time also handles lead vocals on three tracks. “That’s what makes it special. With everyone that’s on this record, there’s an openness, a creative generosity and an emotional quality that connects it all together.”
Along with Vernon, Bryce Dessner and a community of musicians and creatives, the 37d03d (PEOPLE) collective was launched in 2016. 37d03d produces multi-artist events and operates an independent record label, all with the goal of supporting and encouraging collaboration.
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last tracklist…
Latter Days (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)
Phoenix (feat. Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell)
Birch (feat. Taylor Swift)
Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift)
The Ghost of Cincinnati
Mimi (feat. Ilsey)
Easy to Sabotage (feat. Naeem)
Hutch (feat. Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, and Shara Nova [My Brightest Diamond])
8:22am (feat. La Force)
June’s a River (feat. Ben Howard and This Is The Kit)
New Auburn (feat. Anaïs Mitchell)