Will Butler of Arcade Fire — not to be confused with his brother Win — has announced a new songwriting technique: turning news stories into songs. Next week Butler will write and record one song per day based on a news story in that day’s edition of The Guardian and post them on the British newspaper’s website. In an interview with The Guardian, Butler admitted that he often finds the daily headlines to be a compelling source of inspiration:
It’s a cruel thing, but sometimes you read something and think, “Uh oh. I could make something really meaty out of that.” Something like the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial — my God, that’s the gnarliest story in the world, but it’s interesting. Or you might read a science headline and think, “The universe is so much bigger than I thought it was.” There’s something really beautiful in that.
He also said Bob Dylan inspired the undertaking:
It was partly inspired by Bob Dylan, who used to announce that certain songs were based on headlines. It would be a song he wrote in two weeks or something, such as “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” which is one of the greatest songs ever. So I’ve set myself an impossible bar.
The songs Butler writes will appear on The Guardian’s website beginning this Monday, 2/23. These will serve as a nice precursor for Butler’s debut solo album, Policy, coming 3/10. Commenting on the record, Butler said it is “100 percent serious and 100 percent joking” and that he wants his art to be like Moby Dick.
My goal in art is to be like Moby Dick. The first 100 pages are literally slapstick comedy and jokes about whale penises. Even something like Dostoevsky’s Notes From The Underground is written in a really ironic style. The narrator is self-consciously pathetic but really angry at the world, but also making jokes.
Policy will be out 3/10 via Merge.