New Found Glory's Jordan Pundik & Songwriter/Author Alex Woodard Team Up for 'Breathe the Sky': Exclusive Premiere
The Americana-influenced track tells the story of a man's unflinching optimism while dying from Lou Gehrig's Disease.
"For the Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling)" – the second installment of the ongoing music-meets-literature project of Alex Woodard – is shaping up to be one of the year's most touching, unique releases. Accompanying the corresponding book is a CD of 13 songs, each inspired by a heartfelt letter. New Found Glory's frontman Jordan Pundik lent his vocals to the stirring "Breathe the Sky." Check out an advance stream, exclusively here on Billboard:
"This was a completely different kind of thing for me," Pundik says, referencing the departure from NFG's chugging guitars and sneering punk hooks. "I've always been into alt-country and Americana, and [the song] has that vibe. I was able to tone down my voice a bit, to not to belt so hard."
In collaborating with Woodard in songwriting, he called on his love of Americana-leaning acts like Chamberlain, Lucero, Wilco, and Uncle Tupelo: "I was like, 'Hey Alex do you like that new Gaslight Anthem record? Well you've got to listen to this, this, and this!'"
"Our (San Diego) neighborhood is full of different musicians and we have these things called family dinners, which is how the first project came about," Woodard explains, mentioning members of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek are often on hand as well. "Everybody is home from the road we all get together and do a potluck thing. I met Jordan at one of those."
The track's lyrics – and those from the rest of the project – were inspired by a pair of emotional letters Woodard received from a fan at a concert. The fan's father had written them just after losing his best friend to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Touched by the deceased man's unflaggingly optimistic outlook on life, Woodard wrote "Breathe the Sky" with Pundik, who had contributed to 2012's first edition of "For the Sender."
"Reading those letters made me think about death in a more positive way," Pundik says. "What's positive about your mother or father dying? But the way Dan wrote his letters and saw the joy all around... all the things that reminded him of Frank, that really helped me put things in perspective."
"Even when I listen to the song now," Pundik says, "I still get a little emotional about it – which I think is the point of music."
The book "For the Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling)," along with its accompanying CD, comes out Feb. 25 via Hay House. Aside from Pundik, the CD features contributions from renowned songwriter Jack Tempchin (who wrote the Eagles' classic "Peaceful Easy Feeling," along with songs for Emmylou Harris and Glen Campbell), keyboardist Rami Jaffee (The Wallflowers, Foo Fighters) and singer-songwriter Molly Jenson.
Pre-orders for the book are available here.