Phoebe Bridgers Is Embracing The ‘Challenge’ Of Writing Happy Songs For A Change

In April, Phoebe Bridgers released “Sidelines,” which may or may not be her only new song of 2022. One thing about the song that stands out is its optimistic tone in comparison to other Bridgers songs, which are typically rooted in themes of sadness. It turns out that Bridgers shies away from happy songs because away from there is where her comfort zone lies. Now, though, she’s looking to get into creating more joy-motivated material.

In a new Variety interview, Bridgers says of “Sidelines,” “I’m striving to do more stuff like that. I think it’s more challenging to sound smart and write well about happiness than it is about sadness. In the interest of not seeming trite, I lean toward darker subject matter, just out of comfort. And I think a challenge to myself, now, is being articulate about things that are good [laughs].”

She also spoke in detail about how “Sidelines” came to be, saying:

“My drummer Marshall [Vore] and his girlfriend, Ruby [Henley], started the song, and I fell in love with it and was listening to it all the time when it had like a slightly different vibe and different lyrics. And then when I got the opportunity to make music for the show, Marshall was like, ‘Yo! ‘Sidelines,’ that idea is never going to come out. You should make it your own and take it on.’ There wasn’t that much I wanted to redo, and I thought it would be easy. Usually with my songs, even songs that Marshall starts, I’ll rewrite them like 10 times with lots of options. And this was the hardest thing. Everything I put into it felt corny. And what he had already encapsulated was so beautiful that I felt like I was going to ruin it, so it was such a big challenge.

My partner Paul [Mescal] and I were like going through the lyrics, and I was constantly punishing him with: ‘What about this? And what about this? And what about this? What about this?’ And then just one random day, Marshall and I were sitting at the piano and something flooded open, and I wrote some of my favorite lyrics right at the last minute. But it was cool to embark on that. My favorite thing is already loving an idea and not wanting to ruin it, so everything you put into it has to be great — instead of when an idea is still a baby, and there’s not that much compelling about it yet, so you can put anything into it. That’s a challenging way for me to write, because I can’t tell what’s good or not. Whereas if what’s there is already so good, then I don’t want to fuck it up. It just makes the whole thing way better.”

Read the full conversation here.