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(Credit: Press / Kurt Vile)

Music

Kurt Vile's favourite song by The Beatles

Kurt Vile is one of the finest songsmiths of his generation. The Pennsylvania native is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer; all of which he does with remarkable precision. 

Vile’s sound is the embodiment of all of the best parts of modern American music, and he draws on the works of troubadours such as John Prine, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Fahey as well as alt-rock heroes Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. to create his unique interpretation of contemporary Americana. Notably, he made his first foray into the music industry by creating lo-fi home recordings with The War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel in Philadelphia. 

Vile’s debut album, Constant Hitmaker, was released to warm acclaim in 2008 and was followed up by his Mark E. Smith-inspired sophomore album God Is Saying This to You… the following year. Quickly developing his art, Vile signed to indie heavyweight Matador in 2009, who released Childish Prodigy, later that year. This was the start of Vile’s true ascendance, as it was the first occasion he recorded in a proper studio and with his now-longtime backing band The Violators. He had made the jump from novice to professional with ease.

Moving into the 2010s, Vile hit his creative zenith and released a string of modern classics, including 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo and the iconic Wakin on a Pretty Daze in 2013. These were followed by 2015’s B’lieve I’m Goin Down… and 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice, and the former saw him collaborate with Australian musician Courtney Barnett, which was a resounding success. His last full-length came in the form of 2018’s critically acclaimed Bottle It In, which built on the foundations Vile has been laying since he first broke through.

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Whilst it’s easy to associate Kurt Vile with all things American, it would be reductive to do so, as he’s the sum of his many eclectic influences. Duly, it transpires that he’s a great fan of British heroes The Beatles and that the Fab Four had a transformative effect on him when he was a budding musician in the early 2000s. His relationship with The Beatles is so important that he’s even gone so far as to label them his “favourite band”.

Speaking to Stereogum for Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, Vile revealed that his favourite song by The Beatles is 1968’s ‘Martha My Dear’ from The White Album. Vile explained: “When I was in Boston in 2003, the Beatles were my favourite band. At the time, Paul was my favourite Beatle. I like the pop sensibility he has. Songs like ‘Junk,’ you first hear it on the anthology and those kinds of things creep up. I got his first solo record just to find ‘Junk’ on there. Band On The Run, I’ve been listening to that lately — that song with the piano, ‘Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five.’ For me, he’s undeniable.” 

“‘Martha My Dear,’ that’s the most beautiful polished pop song. Turns out it’s about his dog, you know? The way he plays the piano, it’s so in the pocket, so melodic. The bridge, where he says ‘Take a good look around you’, and that guitar and horn section stabs in — sublime. If I had to say, his best song is ‘Martha My Dear.’ That’s the first album that grabbed me fully. That was the gateway. I had Beatles CDs as gifts from friends, Rubber Soul or whatever. But once I got into the White Album, that was the gateway for them becoming my favourite band for sure.”

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