The Japanese version of Vampire Weekend’s Father Of The Bride is out today, and it includes three bonus tracks not available elsewhere around the world. The titles: “Houston, Dubai,” “I Don’t Think Much About Her No More,” and “Lord Ullin’s Daughter.” The latter track is especially notable because it features Jude Law reading a 200-year-old Scottish poem.
In an episode of his Apple Music radio show Time Crisis breaking down the new album, Ezra Koenig revealed that one of the Japanese bonus tracks would be “a radical reconfiguration” of “Big Blue.” That song is “Lord Ullin’s Daughter,” which features Law — who voices a robot butler on Koenig’s Netflix anime series Neo Yokio — narrating Thomas Campbell’s extremely sad poem of the same name. The actor recites these verses over a more stripped-down version of the “Big Blue” chord progression that forgoes much of the final tune’s strummy All Things Must Pass vibe.
On Time Crisis, Koenig said the beat he and DJ Dahi originally produced, which evolved into “Big Blue,” was “very different” from the song that ended up on Father Of The Bride. I’m not sure whether the more skeletal version of the chord progression heard on “Lord Ullin’s Daughter” is the exact track Koenig and Dahi originally came up with, but it’s definitely possible to imagine them coming up with this beat and then Koenig piling on the guitars later. It’s also unclear when/if the bonus tracks will become legally accessible in these United States, but shout out to the young Pope himself for working his way into the Vampire Weekend Connected Universe.
Back in 2017, Koenig spoke to Pitchfork about how Law became involved with Neo Yokio:
I had met Jude before — he’d been to a Vampire Weekend show, and I had went out to a bar with him and some other people — so I think that helped. It wasn’t a fully cold call. Obviously, he is a movie star but he’s also a pretty idiosyncratic, interesting guy. He has picked a lot of unusual roles. Also, with animation, the time commitment isn’t crazy, so he popped in here and there. Almost the whole time we were recording, he was in Italy making The Young Pope, so any time we recorded him it was like 4AM in LA. So I’d set my alarm, wake up, have a cup of coffee, get on Skype, and sit in my bathrobe talking to Jude.
Since he’s a serious actor, I wondered if the recording sessions with him would be super serious. But then we’d be like, “Hey, would you be down to try any other roles besides the butler?” And he’s like, “Yeah sure, what kind of accent?” “Can you do an American accent?” “I haven’t done an American accent in a while, let me try.” The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I was like, “Maybe you can do your American voice from Talented Mr. Ripley.” And he’s like, “That’s a good idea.” Then he started to remember the role and was saying lines from that movie, and I was like, “This is sick.” He’s such a cool dude.
Vampire Weekend’s tour begins this weekend at Hangout Festival on the beach in Alabama. Look out for an extended arrangement of “Big Blue,” but probably no Jude Law. In other Father Of The Bride news, it logged the biggest week of the year for a rock album to become Vampire Weekend’s third straight #1 debut, making them the first act to score three #1 albums without charting even one song on the Hot 100 singles chart.
Lastly, have you read our Vampire Weekend cover story yet? If not, you really ought to. If so, go ahead and read it again.