Pokey LaFarge‘s upcoming Rock Bottom Rhapsody chronicles some dark times in the rootsy singer and songwriter’s recent life. But “Lucky Sometimes,” whose video is premiering exclusively on Billboard today (March 16), provides a welcome bit of light amidst the emotional turmoil.
“I wanted to write a love song to my girlfriend at the time,” LaFarge says of the languid, jazzy track, noting that he moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2018 for the woman in question. “A lot of the lines are fact; I just felt lucky, being a bum, being a traveler — a gypsy, a troubadour, if you will — and being taken in by the woman who took me in.
“It’s really about the kind of redemption that love can bring; No matter what’s happening in your life, the love of a good partner makes it all better.”
To illustrate the “Lucky Sometimes,” director Horatio Baltz puts LaFarge and Esther Rose, as the love interest, through a number of romantic places — meeting at a diner, dancing at a restaurant, enjoying time together. There are hints of loss in the clip, but ultimately with a satisfying ending for the characters.
“[Baltz] felt that when we look back on life and try to dig into your memory, you remember things out of order, sort of like in little snapshots,” LaFarge explains. “That’s how we wanted it to feel, kind of a dig into one’s memory of ups and downs, all out of order. It’s not necessarily tumultuous; It just maybe speaks to love and the parts of a relationship that you remember best. What matters in the end? I don’t know, but you have these memories.”
A number of not as warm memories populate the rest of Rock Bottom Rhapsody, due out April 10. LaFarge’s short time in Los Angeles — he moved last year — where he recorded the album with producer Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums) — was eventful and not entirely positive. As a song like “F–k Me Up” makes clear, the experiences and indulgences took a fast toll on his well-being, emotionally and physically.
“Some of the harder times that I’ve endured, maybe, in the last few years were mostly self-inflicted, trying to escape certain realities — not necessarily in the world, but within myself,” LaFarge notes. “I was trying to mask those with different types of unhealthy remedies — on top of the dysfunctional life of a touring artist, where you’re not very grounded.
“A poet friend of mine once said, ‘You get so far down you can’t help but sing,’ and he’s exactly right. I’m really thankful that I have music as an outlet for those rougher times that everyone goes through. I look back at some of those songs I wrote and can see I predicted the inevitable fall and wrote about that — again, a blessing. Very therapeutic, and very cathartic.”
LaFarge says a new producer and different band also made a significant mark on Rock Bottom Rhapsody. “It was about leaving more space for the words and the vocals,” he notes, “not having them covered up with so much instrumentation. It has those elements of jazz but also more elements of, like, late ’60s Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and a little bit of Spanish flare in some of the songs, too. I felt like that instrumentation would best serve the songs, and my voice.”
LaFarge plans to replicate that sound when he begins touring — COVID-19 issues depending — on April 24 in the Netherlands, returning to the U.S. during early May with dates booked into July so far. LaFarge also makes his feature film debut in the upcoming thriller The Devil All the Time, from the Donald Ray Pollock book of the same name that stars Tom Holland and Sebastian Stan and is due to premiere on Netflix later this year.
“I had a great time, and I got to play some music in it, too,” LaFarge says. “It’s dark, man, really heavy — and very cathartic for me to do it, too. I don’t really pursue that [acting] stuff. It just kind of lands in my lap. But I do like acting, if it’s the right thing. And hopefully this film will bring more opportunities.”
The video for “Lucky Sometimes” is below.