Jenny Lewis' 'The Voyager' started as a challenge from Ryan Adams
Jenny Lewis’ excellent new solo album The Voyager doesn’t officially arrive until this Tuesday, July 29, but you can currently stream it in its entirety over at Amazon Music. It’s a remarkable album, full of sweet summertime memories and vivid storytelling.
Several of the tracks from The Voyager have already been released, including the Hollywood cross-dresser assisted “Just One of the Guys,” the breezy “She’s Not Me,” and the stark, heartbreaking title track.
“It’s funny that song has actually become a single, because I never intended it to be anything other than the closing song on the record,” Lewis said of the title track, which is the closing tune on The Voyager. “It was never really supposed to be separated from the whole album as a whole. I positioned it in such a way where it kind of sums the feeling of the record.”
The song itself showed up late in the process of crafting The Voyager, and came about after Lewis received a challenge from a friend and producer.
“That song was actually based on an assignment that Ryan Adams gave me,” she said. “After we had recorded the entirety of the record—and a bunch of songs didn’t end up on The Voyager—he instructed me to go home and write another song, and he wanted the song to be like [Oasis’] ‘Wonderwall.’ He said, ‘I want you to go home this weekend and write “Wonderwall.”‘ Of course I thought to myself, ‘Well I can’t f—ing do that.’ ‘Wonderwall’ is the perfect song, and if I could’ve done that I would’ve done it already in the last 15 years.”
Despite her misgivings, she didn’t want to disappoint Adams. “I went home and listened to ‘Wonderwall’ and this song came from it,” she said. “I showed up on Monday and played the song for Ryan in his office, and his response wasn’t really—he wasn’t over the moon, I’ll put it that way. I convinced him to let me record it anyway.”
Though Adams wasn’t 100 percent on board, Lewis said that energy informed her performance of the song. “I think that tension is good to feel before you are about to lay down a really emotional vocal,” she said. “I was upset. The song was so fresh and it was such a raw thing for me to write about, but you can really hear it in my voice. It’s a live vocal, so it’s very real and totally flawed—in a good way, I hope.”