You’ll Love Hating Father John Misty on “Ballad of the Dying Man”

 

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Joshua Tillman’s “Ballad of the Dying Man” is tragic. On the new Pure Comedy song, Tillman’s Father John Misty persona takes on a pathetic character: the Dying Man, a sneering critic and cultural connoisseur. And much like his Father John Misty guise, the Dying Man actively courts your revulsion.

Despite this character’s insufferable attitude, “Ballad of the Dying Man” is warm and inviting. Tillman does not treat the Dying Man with cynicism. The skepticism is implied, and the sarcasm is obvious (“Who will critique them when he’s left?”), but he still finds sympathy in the man as a fellow human, one who is concerned with his legacy. If Tillman finds the Dying Man worthless, the music—its lovely chorus and beautiful arrangement—does not communicate his disdain. For Tillman and his fatally flawed friend, there are no right answers in the end, or clear paths toward truth—there are just the attempts.

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