On Canadian Rich Aucoin’s last tour of the United States, he saw more than just the cities where he stopped. He cycled his way across the country in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Now he’s written a song for each of the 12 states he visited, all compiled on his upcoming release United States on Sept. 18.
“Dopamine” was written for that possible 51st state, Washington, D.C. It features mellotron, wurlitzer and Rhodes keyboards, along with saxophone, copious strings and guest vocals from Kyla Carter, Carleigh Aikins, James Baley, Tarik Henry and Simone Denny.
“I wrote this while riding each day alone across the country,” Aucoin says. “It was one that was started in Arizona but took a while to decide on its lyrics. Riding for eight to 10 hours a day meant a lot of time to reflect which could be both happy and sad and always a returning to the present assured a renewed excitement to be alive. Lots of nostalgia and sentimental feelings in the verses remembering the past: ‘these are people who’ve come and gone and left me where I am’ or ‘all the things that have gone away and faded from my life.’ But, it re-examines that those things are still with you in your mind always. While the process of nostalgia can be saddening, the excavation of memories can be joyous if you’re holding them in the present and not trying to dig yourself into where they are in the depths.”
The video, much like the album itself, was inspired by Swiss photographer Robert Frank’s journey across the U.S. that culminated in his iconic book, The Americans. Frank spent the last chapter of his life in Aucoin’s home of Nova Scotia, where he passed away last year. Aucoin blogged about the tour for Paste, but lost all his photos from the trip except those published on this site. He culled 83 of the remaining photos into this video, “the same number as in Frank’s seminal work,” he says.
Watch the video for “Dopamine”:
And check out Aucoin’s 2012 performance at the Paste SXSW party: