For his seventh album (not including his 2009 collaboration with Scarlett Johansson), Pete Yorn fell into what may be the most fruitful partnership of his nearly 20-year career by hooking up with Day Wave’s Jackson Phillips. The 12 songs that make up Caretakers are merely the first of what Yorn says is a couple records’ worth of material produced by Phillips, who grew up a fan of Yorn’s earnest guitar-driven songs. “This just happens to be the first batch that kind of fits together,” Yorn tells Apple Music. “It's just me and Jackson playing everything, and it's kind of the most—what's the word?—homogenous record. I've done records where I've had five different producers and I remember being like, 'This thing's all over the place.' It's just me and him pulling from a lot of the same instruments in the same room and it has kind of a consistency in that manner.” But don't just take his word for it—listen and follow along with Yorn's track-by-track overview.
“Calm Down” “It's a mantra to me. Some people initially were like, 'Are you telling me to calm down?' I'm not telling anybody to calm down; I'm talking to myself. And it's this reminder to just step back, not get too bogged down in regrets or worries or thoughts like that, and just take a moment. The last lyrics of the song talk about pain. But then they say I wouldn't change a thing.”
“I Wanna Be the One” “A lot of those words—‘I want to be the one to watch you, I want to be the one that talks you through’—is that wanting from a father’s perspective to be able to be there and to be the one to have a close relationship with a child, and to be worthy of that. I remember before we had a kid, I was all nervous, like, 'Oh my god, am I going to be able to handle it?' But the ironic thing was as soon as we had her, all that stuff just went poof like a cloud and it's the polar opposite. I feel less anxiety than ever for some reason, it's strange.”
“Can’t Stop You” “There's a number of songs on the record that deal with frustrations over difficult people in your life. And this is one of them, for sure. I'm a very loyal friend, I'm a very loyal family member, and there are some people that you're just stuck with, that you can't cut out of your life, whether you would like to or not. And so then you figure out how to not lose your mind interacting with these people. But ultimately it's like you can't save people from themselves. They're going to do what they're going to do, and you can't keep banging your head against the wall trying to change that.”
“Idols (We Don’t Ever Have to Say Goodbye)” “I always say that maybe the worst part of dying is saying goodbye, having to leave the party. And so that lyric in there—‘We don't ever have to say goodbye'—that repeats over and over. For me, that's just this kind of fantasy that maybe we'll all be partying somewhere in another life. And that was an alternate title for the record, actually.”
“Do You Want to Love Again?” “That for me feels like a power-pop song from the ’70s that like Triumph would've done or something like that. It's a side of me that people who are into my music know that I love. It's my Cher, 'Do you believe in life after love?' Are you ready to get back in a relationship? Are you going to take it for granted again and fuck it all up, or are you going to be there and really try and appreciate what you have?”
“Caretakers” “I remember when we were recording it, Jackson had done the synths and it sounded like saxophone to me—almost like [Bruce Springsteen’s] 'Meeting Across the River.' It's really just about connection and responsibility and sometimes parts of you being frustrated about having any responsibility.”
“Friends” “That was written during a period when me and the person who—although I didn't know it at the time—would become my wife had broken up for like a year. Now knowing that it's a happy ending, this French singer named Judith Godrèche put it on one of her records, which was well-known in France but I'm not sure if it was well-known anywhere else. The lyrics still resonate with me so much, and it was one of the first songs I recorded when I got together with Jackson. It's not my story today; it was my story when I wrote it. But it's still a story that means a lot to me in that it serves as a reminder that you can move on from pain.”
"ECT" “I have someone very close to me with mental illness. It always feels very without a floor—as soon as something seems right, something else happens. And so, that's an attempt for me to kind of make sense of that. You just be there to keep helping and support and guide through and do whatever you can—without losing your own shit over it.”
“POV” “I liked the scarcity of it—the sparse arrangement throughout the song, it's just bass, drums, one guitar. It's pretty subtle. Oftentimes your closest friends are people who basically see the world in the similar way that you do. And then there's other ones, maybe you don't agree on a lot, but something keeps you together. I guess I'll just accept that they see the world different than I do and that's cool. That's okay.”
“Opal” “That was one of the first ones we did, and I remember when we finished that song I was like, all right, I think we got something interesting going on here. Maybe one of my favorite lines on the record: ‘The color of your hair, you can change it.’ You're walking alone, you're overthinking everything, but the color of your hair, you can make that change.”
“A Fire in the Sun” “That was one of the last ones we did, and it came very quickly. We were working up some sounds in the studio and then I got inspired, like, ‘Give me the mic,’ and I sang the whole thing. I think it's like one vocal take, and I just loved the way that it made me feel and the production on it. I was toying with it being track one on the record, but I didn't have enough of a relationship with it to make that call.”
“Try” “I remember when I first heard that, it reminded me of Echo & The Bunnymen. Lyrically it was very important to me, because after all is said and done on the record, this is just kind of, ‘Don't give up.' You hit your head up against the wall, you figure out how to get through frustrations that everyone has in life, and you just keep playing, you keep going. Worse than depression or anything else I can think of is where you just don't care anymore. We go out on that way.”


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