Po Pimp: Kurt Vile Wants to Ride

Kurt Vile's lead single, "Pretty Pimpin'," gets the video treatment ahead of the fall LP release.
By    July 27, 2015


Peter Holslin is smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo

Rock history is littered with tales of flaky dudes. Since the days of Easy Rider (the 1969 original, not the Action Bronson remake), male freedom has been expressed through images of motorcycles, leather jackets, and endless highways. But the question is always—is the price of freedom really worth it? Sure, Bob Dylan turned an escape from hard labor into a metaphor for electric liberation on “Maggie’s Farm,” and that definitely worked out well for him. But at the end of Easy Rider, after their own epic and mind-altering trip, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda get their heads blown off by a couple of hillbillies.

Philly-bred six-stringer Kurt Vile has long plumbed this rock ’n’ roll tradition, and on new song “Pretty Pimpin”—the lead single off his forthcoming album b’lieve i’m goin down…, out September 25 on Matador—he wrangles with the same world-weariness of his guitar-toting forebears. With his trademark lilt, he describes waking up in the morning and not recognizing himself in the bathroom mirror. If he always felt like he could be “one thousand miles away but still mean while I say,” now he feels weightless, “like some leaf come in the window of a restroom.”

The song delves into a serious existential revelation, and in another musician’s hands this could easily have been played for high drama (such as Bon Jovi does with the hokey “Wanted Dead or Alive”). But in “Pretty Pimpin,” Vile is his usual unflappable self. The song is built around a guitar hook that wouldn’t sound out of place on commercial radio, but nevertheless doesn’t sound too worked-over. And in the music video Vile’s shown handling his Fender Jaguar with the same tender ease as he would a lover he’s known for years. It’s an approach to a musty old rock archetype that, through sheer nonchalance, comes off sounding genuine and fresh.

Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou, from Philly Mag


We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!