Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Richard Pacelle, professor of political science at the University of Tennessee, to find some answers.
His father, noted physicist Hugh Everett III, died when Mark was a teenager, his mother later died from cancer and his sister committed suicide.
His new album, “The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett,” also reflects on these losses but with the perspective of age.
Everett discusses the new album with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson, and performs three songs with fellow band members The Chet and P-Boo: “Parallels,” “Where I’m From” and “Mistakes of My Youth.”
On his new song “Parallels”
“This is one of those songs that, more often than not, I think I know who I’m singing to, but in this one, we were kind of on a gut level, and I wasn’t sure who I was singing it to. And I’m still not really sure. At different times I sing it, I’m thinking about different people I might be singing it to. It could be about my father, you know, because of the parallel thing. He was the guy who did the parallel universe theory. And then another thing I think is it’s like — to the idea we all have a long-lost twin somewhere, and then the reason that might be a cautionary tale is, maybe that’s not such a good idea to, you know, hold out for your long-lost twin. You might just be looking for yourself. Maybe you should just look for somebody you can let be who they are.”
On his family relationships, and how he deals with that through music
“Once the last of my family died, and I went back to Virginia and I closed up their house, and I just never looked back. I just, like, shut it all off, you know, after making the ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ record, and locking the door on their house. And to some degree, that’s not such a healthy way to — I mean, you do anything you can to survive at that point, but, you know, I realize, all these years later, that it’s not healthy to just shut anything completely off. I realize I should revisit it from time to time. And I also catch myself, you know, having little conversations with them at times. I try to touch base occasionally.”
“Most of the time, I’m always just treating myself as the audience member. I think that’s really the only way to do it, you know? You just do something to try to impress yourself. And then, in this case, it serves me doubly, because it’s also got some therapeutic purpose.”
On what he hopes fans take from his “cautionary tales”
“I would like people to realize that there are some stupid things they don’t need to do because I’ve already done them for them. They can learn from my mistakes. Maybe you have a good situation in your life that you’re not appreciating, and maybe you shouldn’t blow it.”