Hudson Valley’s Ryan Martin is back with a new single from his forthcoming album Wandercease. “Fathers to Daughters” follows the release of “I Just Wanna Die” and “Coma Kiss,” and the song is wistful and introspective with a tranquil country twang to it.
“I never thought I would write songs about kids, or even my kid,” Martin shares. “I was too locked up in my own world and my pretentious existential ponderings and sad-sacked views to give a piece of music a lyric of genuine joy and love for a child. There seemed nothing cool about that. Now this song about my daughter stands as one of my favorites that I’ve written and probably some one of the best lyrically.”
Wandercease is out October 23 via High Moon Records. Listen to “Fathers to Daughters,” and read more of what Martin had to say, below.
Like most of the songs that get kept around, it sort of writes itself whether you like it or not. I’ve never known a purer love than that for my daughter. She is the real happiness of my life and may have even saved my life in the darker days. It was when things got fucked up and I couldn’t be with her all the time that I started to realize how much I cherished our time together. It was only after I was given a chance to be a father not out of obligation, but out of my own desire and willingness to be one, that I realized the magic of parenthood. Maybe most people always felt this way but I came into fatherhood out of a sense of duty and a young love I didn’t want to break. Maybe that’s another story.
The images are taken from solo dad-ing around Manhattan with a stroller and going to playgrounds and parks in the summer and fall when she was three years old. I was touched by the pure joy, terror and curiosity she had for the world. As well as her kindness to all others and the bond she could form instantly with other kids. Most of all I was punched in the gut by the genuine love she had for me. I couldn’t believe I was the one who got to be there for her and be the one she depends on. Part of me felt like I didn’t deserve it. That may be the secret to this song. I’m so in awe of the love she has for me and I’m not sure how in the world I was chosen to be worthy of it. I see it now as the privilege of a lifetime to be her father, rather than the burden I once believed it to be.
Musically it was written with a folky fingerpicking feel reminiscent of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” We were struggling in the studio with the band to get the right feel and after several takes that felt underwhelming the piano player, Jared Samuel, suggested a more R&B groove. “Kinda like Bill Withers,” he said. That’s when it started to ascend to a special place. I was fumbling along trying to keep my folky finger picking in there and Kenny, the producer, suggested a really simple strumming pattern that fit perfectly. It’s maybe the greatest example on the record of the musical collaboration between the band, Kenny and myself. And I think it’s served well by that.