Jesse Malin Delivers Message to a Lost Relationship in New Song, ‘Dance on My Grave’ [Exclusive Premiere]
The last time Jesse Malin celebrated an album release, there were no vaccine debates, no masks and no businesses shuttering or families grieving due to a global pandemic.
That record, 2019's Sunset Kids, is steeped in Malin and producer Lucinda Williams' alt-country and lyrical sensibilities and is an eternal snapshot of a different world that seems a lifetime away. Now, in the middle of all the world continues to face, Malin is preparing to toast his new project, the aptly titled Sad and Beautiful World, out Friday (Sept. 24) via Wicked Cool Records.
"It was very therapeutic to record this," Malin tells The Boot ahead of the record's release. "We started it before the pandemic, and then I did a lot of extra writing and it became this double record with this concept of an Americana and roots side and a rock side. I spent a lot of time in my kitchen cooking up these songs, thinking about the world."
As much as he was thinking about the world and everything that was going on, Malin wanted to make sure Sad and Beautiful World didn't become a "souvenir for this time" and instead would serve as a massive collection of songs that "helps us keep an optimistic view of dark things." "Dance on My Grave," a Bakersfield-esque letter written to a broken relationship, beautifully captures that endeavor and stands out as one of the highlights of the Americana side of the record.
Before Malin's new album hits the streets, "Dance on My Grave" is premiering exclusively on The Boot today. Press play below to listen:
There are special guests strewn throughout Sad and Beautiful World, including Don DiLego, Joseph Arthur, Tommy Stinson and, of course, Williams. On "Dance on My Grave," Cat Popper sings the harmonies, but Malin is quick to say it's really his core bandmates — guitarist Derek Cruz, pianist Rob Clores, bassist James Cruz and drummer Randy Schrager — who are the "real stars."
"It's the four of them and me on the floor banging it out," he says with obvious admiration for the band. "It's just one of those songs that I had. I put the capo on up high one day and my guitar had this kind of mandolin sound, and then the whole thing kind of came to me."
Though the sound of the song came to Malin then, the lyrics came a little later.
"Not only did we lose clubs and lose people over the last year and a half, but I was going through a breakup with somebody," he explains. "This was a message to them. I really believe in love and relationships, and I know I've messed some up over the years. I've learned things, and I always want to do better, and so I wanted to let this person know that I knew what a jerk I had been, and that they could throw a party and dance on my grave."
He admits the title is tongue in cheek, but it isn't meant to simply be a "lighthearted romp around the zombie graveyard." Rather, Malin hopes the track delivers a message.
"Most of my songs are about real people, but this one is a direct story," Malin says. "There's no better stuff to grab from than real life, as sad as it might be. What did Lenny Bruce say? Tragedy plus time equals comedy. In this case, tragedy plus time equals a catchy song."