Big Red Machine Shares 'Phoenix' Featuring Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell

By Katrina Nattress

July 22, 2021

The National's Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon are gearing up to release their latest Big Red Machine album, How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? next month, and have shared another song. "Phoenix" features Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold and Anaïs Mitchell.

“‘Phoenix’ was one of the last songs we wrote for this record,” Dessner recalled in a press release. “I was thinking about The Band and the Grateful Dead ...maybe imagining this Big Red Machine album was some version of the Last Waltz. Justin first heard it while driving and immediately the chorus melody came into his head. I shared the sketch with Robin Pecknold, who I've been a fan of forever and who I'd been dreaming would join us on this record. Robin wrote the verses and pre chorus as a kind of dialogue with Justin, recalling a conversation they once had backstage in Phoenix. Later Anais wrote words to the chorus and the Westerlies added their magic to the instrumental. JT Bates rumbles around in rare form on the drums on this song. I think it's what I always imagined Big Red Machine would sound like.”

"It was a high, high honor to work on this song, and beyond that it was a really interesting creative challenge,” Pecknold added. “Justin's vocals and the beautiful chorus were already in place before I got my hands on it, so I felt my job melodically and lyrically was to set his entrance up in the best possible way. I felt like a pilgrim putting questions to an elusive sage, not needing clear answers, but happy for the chance to ask."

"Phoenix" is the third offering off the album, following lead single "Latter Days," which also features Mitchell, and "Renegade," which features Taylor Swift. How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? is slated for an August 27 release. Listen to "Phoenix" above.

Big Red MachineFleet FoxesThe NationalBon IverAnaïs Mitchell
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