This Land Is Your Land: Dan Deacon Performs 'America'

“I never felt American until I left the United States,’” Dan Deacon writes on his website about the thinking that lead to his latest album America. He brings the music to Boston in a performance at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave., on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

But a 2007 European tour got him rethinking America, got him rethinking his place in the world. “The United States was an evil, Earth-destroying monster of war, corporate greed and bigotry,” he writes. “I had been touring for years in the DIY scene, trying to live apart from consumer culture, feeling detached from what I thought of as the American lifestyle. But when I left for Europe, I was slammed into reality. … I realized that no matter which subculture I chose to identify or what kind of lifestyle I led I would always be American.”

There are many reasons to love Deacon. There’s the Baltimore musician's swirling, lush, sparkling bubblegum experimental, beeping video-game-soundtrack, pop explosions. There are his occasional past performances with the brilliant Providence radical marching band What Cheer? Brigade (see video at bottom).

When he’s on, his music flows over you, so infectious and heartbreakingly happy. America is that (sample the track True Thrush above), but also hints at some darker notes—particularly in the four USA tracks on America, a sort of indie electronic mini-symphony, genetically related to 1960s minimalist art music, and as ambitiously expansive and ultimately heartening as one man might muster in the face of this down-at-the-heels nation.

“The inspiration for the music was my love of cross-country travel, seeing the landscapes of the United States, going from east to west and back again over the course of seasons,” Deacon writes. “The lyrics are inspired by my frustration, fear and anger towards the country and world I live in and am a part of. As I came closer to finishing the album these themes began to show themselves more frequently and greater clarity. There seemed no better world to encapsulate both inspirations than the simple beauty found in the word America.”

This program aired on November 12, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Greg Cook Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.



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