Co-directed by Butler and Adrienne Anderson, the visual looks like a frenetic preparation of a feast, which the artist referred to as “a nightmare of a Flemish still life.” From meats hanging above a fire to a table that starts to overflow with food, there’s a lot going on in the clip.
Butler explained the origin of the track in a statement below:
“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.
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 fucking head on straight. History has not ruptured—this shit we’re in is contiguous with the shit 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.”
For Butler, Generations “is more of a novel — despairing, funny, a little bit epic…” he said in a statement. “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. What do I do? What can I do? The record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.”
Before Generations releases on Sept. 25, Butler and his band will be premiering a Take Away Show for La Blogothèque on Sept. 25 at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT and will include a live chat. You can find more information on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.