We are gathered here today to watch Okkervil River’s new music video.
Aptly named “Okkervil River R.I.P.,” the video features actor Tim Blake Nelson as a priest eulogizing frontman Will Sheff, who appears as a singing corpse lying in his casket. (Take that, Swiss Army Man.)
In all seriousness, “Okkervil River R.I.P.” is a beautifully somber and impassioned track that traces a difficult period of Sheff’s life. Sheff wrote a statement to fans on his website, explaining:
2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. I lost some connections in a music industry that was visibly falling apart. Some members of the Okkervil River backing band left, moving on to family life or to their own projects. I spent a good deal of time sitting in hospice with my grandfather, who was my idol, while he died. I felt like I didn’t know where I belonged. When there was trouble at home, a friend offered me her empty house in the Catskills where I could go and clear my head. New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible. I wasn’t thinking about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling, quickly and directly. Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.
The new song is off the band’s forthcoming album, Away, due out Sept. 9. Watch the video above, read Sheff’s full statement here and pre-order Away here.