Arcade Fire's Will Butler Shares Nightmarish Video For 'Bethlehem'

By Katrina Nattress

September 17, 2020

This week, Will Butler released "Bethlehem" — the third offering off his upcoming solo album Generations — and shared an accompanying video that he describes as “a nightmare of a Flemish still life.”

“This song partly springs from 'The Second Coming' by William Butler Yeats:​ 'what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?' Like a lot of folks, I woke up after the election in 2016 mad and sad and scared and exhausted. This song is born of that emotion," the Arcade Fire musician explained of the track's origin in a statement. "My bandmates Jenny Shore, Julie Shore, and Sara Dobbs sing the bridge, and it’s a corrective to my (appropriate?) freaking out—this isn’t the apocalypse. You’re misquoting Yeats. Get your f**king head on straight. History has not ruptured—this s**t we’re in is contiguous with the s**t we’ve been dealing with for a long, long time. But still, we sometimes do need an apocalyptic vision to make change. Even if it’s technically wrong. I dunno. It’s an ongoing conversation.”

Butler called Generations "despairing, funny, a little bit epic,” when he announced the album. “A big chunk of this record is asking: What’s my place in American history? What’s my place in America’s present? Both in general — as a participant, as we all are, in the shit that’s going down — but, also extremely particularly: me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, Mormon, Yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess.”

Generations comes out September 25. Watch the jarring "Bethlehem" video below.

Photo: Will Butler

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