Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night

Bleachers

Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night

“This whole album is in questions,” Jack Antonoff tells Apple Music about the meaning behind Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, his third album as Bleachers. “I kept going back to these really dark stories that somehow spin you around and you're in this character, and you don't know why this hope exists. I was trying to access that part of myself.” The much-in-demand singer-songwriter and producer—whose credits in the past year alone include work with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and St. Vincent—is awash in joy and optimism as he lets things fall into place on these 10 tracks, trading the synth-pop glitz of his previous albums for sweeping, sax-tinged anthems and intimate acoustic confessionals. Antonoff wrote the songs in bits and pieces over the course of four years, though it wasn't until early 2020 that he began to record the album—mostly live in a studio with his touring bandmates. “I'm always writing, and then at some point, an album will form or it won't—and when it starts to form, that's when I chase it,” he says. “It's a window into how I hear music. I don't craft records to be instant. I don't craft records to be growers. I just craft what I hear and feel in myself.” Here, he tells us the story behind every song on the album.
“91” “The song, much like a poem, which Zadie Smith helped me write, functions where every lyric is tied to every verse but from a different angle. In the first verse, there’s this child version that can't understand what's happening. And you only recognize that you're here, but you're not, through the anxiety of your mother. In the second verse, it's a little bit more about anger. You're recognizing this part of yourself that you don't like through someone else, which is a pretty intense way of understanding it. If you have a feeling that's pretty harsh about someone else, there's a good chance it's really about you. And then, in the third verse, you finally get this unearned hope, and this lightness of actually having all the magic of being alive.”
“Chinatown” (feat. Bruce Springsteen) “A lot of the music that I love to play sits in that place where it's doing two things: There's a literal and emotional thing that's coming from the same concept. It is going from New York over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. Literally and sonically, the song does that. The music sounds a little bit New York-y in the beginning, and then it gets more innate and hopeful and becomes more New Jersey and more suburban. It feels like going home.”
“How Dare You Want More” “‘How Dare You Want More’ is this feeling I was seeing with friends and family. Everyone's going through this big struggle to have more, to ask for more, and to be in control of their life. I saw it was producing so much shame in other people, and therefore, really just myself. Why is it so hard? And I'm not talking about more square footage. I'm not talking about more money. I'm talking about more of who you are so you can not have that strange feeling that keeps you up at night or makes you feel all fucked up in the morning, or makes you not grab at the things you want. It's a question that, if you keep asking yourself over and over and over again, can start to sound silly. And that's a good thing, because it is silly. It was a hallmark of the album, trying to move past this shame.”
“Big Life” “It's a sibling track to ‘Secret Life.’ It's, in the most real and non-cynical way, falling so in love where you want to have a big life. You want to have all the experiences, and you want to take them with you on all these crazy journeys. And ‘Secret Life’ was the opposite, when you want to close every door. It's a pretty romantic concept to me. But the song is all about posing these wants. In a funny, funny way, I think it's the most vulnerable song on the album, even though it might not come off as it because the music is so confident.”
“Secret Life” (feat. Lana Del Rey) “I do this thing a few times in the album where you have a feeling and you look at it from two polar-opposite positions. ‘Big Life’ is this ‘let me go out there, let me get burned, and let the world knock me over because I'm trying to find love,’ right? I want a secret life where you and I can get bored out of our minds. It's not a chase. It's not running out there to prove something. It's a very optimistic song, which is basically when the chemicals wear off and you're really in it with someone. At first, maybe I thought it would be a duet with Lana where it could be conversational, but then I realized that if I just put some reverb on her voice and have her kind of crest over the second verse and the chorus, she's more like a dream of this person I'm talking to.”
“Stop Making This Hurt” “This one is a sibling song to ‘How Dare You Want More.’ ‘Stop Making This Hurt’ is just sort of a more petulant, pissed-off version. There's all this joy and hope about the next phase of your life. But then there's all this frustration about ‘I can't get through this doorway. Whatever I'm carrying does not let me through.’ I was able to access this rage by talking about other people: my dad, my friends and their kids, the world, and a whole new generation of people that are inheriting so much crap. But at the end of the day, I'm right in that struggle with all of them.”
“Don’t Go Dark” “I'd never written a song like this. It's not 'I love you.' It's not 'I hate you.' It's 'you've got to get off my back. You've got to let me go.' I can't be me for new people who I'm trying to love if I'm holding your darkness. I can hold you and I can hold our past and all these things, but it can't happen. That's why the song is so tense. It feels like this plea and this release. I just didn't know what else to do besides write that song. It's probably the angriest song I've ever written.”
“45” “There's these pieces of us that, to the world, are gone. They're not gone—the people we love see them. When you meet someone new, or someone has been in your life for a while, they're bringing these pieces that, even if you know this person, you don't know and can learn to love them. It's exonerating. I can walk back into it in one second, even though no one else can see it.”
“Strange Behavior” “I wrote the song a long time ago. I wanted to put it on the album because it’s the only song I've ever written in the past that feels like it's still in the future for me. And at the time when I wrote it, I made it really loud and bombastic. I think I was a little bit afraid of it. I wanted to reapproach it with the confidence and vulnerability of how I feel now.”
“What’d I Do With All This Faith?” “It's in many ways the most important song in the album, because the past two Bleachers albums I've closed with this idea of being ready to move on. It's a literal lyric I've put in the titles. They're these sort of ending pieces. And what I really came to is, that's it. I don't have God. I don't have a sureness about certain things in my personal life that I wish I did. But for some reason I'm spilling over with faith, and I don't even know where to put it. That is the biggest question of the album: What do I do with all this faith?”

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