Thomas Johnson stays hydrated
Gas leaks and drunken medical responders probably aren’t involved in your romantic aspirations. Neither are economic crashes and general malaise. Our saccharine ambitions tend to veer more towards Norah Ephron movies, sharing passing glances in blooming flower gardens, and surprising each other at work with a grande latte. The biggest issue facing our predestined courtships is a tertiary character or scheduling conflict. Father John Misty imagines himself lying next to his wife in bed: bearded, hair flowing, inhaling CO2.
For all the soul-stirring ballads out there, few can claim to be an accurate portrayal of two people in love. The good ones tend to assert how relationships sometimes don’t work out. The best ones mention how they’re still worth the effort. This distinction encapsulates what makes Father John Misty the best, or at least the most pertinent, modern balladeer. His ability to distinguish sugary sweet narrative cliches and realistic romantic tribulations make his songwriting singular in a field far too accommodating to anyone with a beer goggles and a pen. There is no “happily- ever-after,” just stints of bliss that can make it all worth it.
FJM has become a character much more real than any songwriter in recent memory. He’s jaded and sarcastic, but who isn’t after one too many heartbreaks? The underlying cynicism only highlights the strongest emotion in his repertoire: love. He’s experienced too much of the real world to simply omit when something better comes along and, as far as he’s concerned, the real world is most assuredly going down. Yet there he is. That’s romance. There is no mention of past significant others, or catching an eye at the overly crowded bar over a watered down vodka-cran. “I Love You, Honeybear” is an ode to everyone who knows that everything is doomed and nothing will be spared. It’s also for whoever knows that it will be fine as long as they’re not in it alone.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in regards to the most infuriating and simultaneously rewarding emotion. Josh Tillman and Grant James are able to fit the whole scope in five minutes. Love-drunk reckless abandon. Inevitable frustration and tension. Soul crushing loss (in one of the most beautiful shots a music video’s had all year). Reconciliation and comfort. Brett Gelman, Christinith’s bearded husband in Will Ferrell’s most underrated movie. It’s got it all. “I Love You, Honeybear” is the most poignant and nuanced depiction of life in and out of love to grace YouTube formatting in far too long.
Would you maintain a relationship with someone who’s inherited schizophrenia and disdain from his or her father? You don’t want to think about going down with the ship, but if it’s worth it will you? Father John Misty would, because Father John Misty knows what it means to care more about someone else than himself. He’s aware that nothing’s more romantic than unshakeable sincerity and devotion in the face of an insurmountable shit-storm. In the end, something as simple as a pet name like “Honeybear” can make it all worthwhile.