Check out Father John Misty’s Buddhist-inflected song, “Leaving L.A.”

Listen to the singer-songwriter’s Buddhist-legend-checking song, “Leaving LA,” found on his new LP, “Pure Comedy.”

Rod Meade Sperry
19 May 2017

Listen to the singer-songwriter’s Buddhist-legend-checking song, “Leaving LA,” found on his new LP, Pure Comedy.

He performed and talked about the song for BBC Radio 6.

The famed music outlet NME says about the song that it’s:

either a remarkable 13-minute portrait of the artist as a self-loathing middle-aged man or, as the song describes itself, “some 10-verse, chorus-less diatribe,” that will horrify and alienate his fans. It imagines an encounter between [Misty] and the Buddhist demon Mara, who ridicules him for being “another white guy in 2017 who takes himself so goddamn seriously.” The moral of the story, he explains, “is that we all have to face the fear that we’re delusional. When you write songs and put them into the world, you’re vulnerable to criticism. The strange thing is, when I started doing this, I thought to myself, ‘I’m not gonna be one of those white guys living in a white-guy romantic fantasy – I’m gonna take myself to task.’ Fast-forward five years, and when people think of a clichéd, bearded, white-guy singer-songwriter, it’s my name that comes up. I set out to be a real human, not a cartoon character, and now I am the cartoon character…”

Rod Meade Sperry. Photo by Megumi Yoshida, 2024

Rod Meade Sperry

Rod Meade Sperry is the editor of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Guide (published by Lion’s Roar), and the book A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his partner and their tiny pup, Sid.