Craig Finn's 'Clear' interpretations

  • Article by: CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2012 - 3:49 PM

The Hold Steady frontman (thankfully) is not a songwriter who hesitates to discuss the inspiration and meaning behind some of his songs. Here's what he said about three tracks on "Clear Heart, Full Eyes."


Craig Finn

Photo: Jenna Wedgewood,

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"Honolulu Blues"

"A lot of it was inspired by this book 'Democracy' by Joan Didion, which talks a lot about all the profiteering that took place out of Hawaii during the Vietnam War. It was sort of a jumping-off point for a lot of the bad stuff that we did. Not just the war itself, but all the money being made off the war. We went [to Honolulu] with the Hold Steady, and I thought it was nice, but noticed that the streets are kind of edgier than you'd guess."


"It's about thinking back on someone from a different part of your life, wondering what happened to them. In this Facebook world, every once in a while you go look for someone you used to be friends with, and if you can't find someone, you're like, 'Whoa! What happened?'"

"New Friend Jesus," which references the "Riverside Perkins" in Minneapolis ("just a godless place," Finn explained) -- "I was attracted to the really human idea of Jesus, and how he might show up in our normal lives. I sort of imagined it like when you're in high school, and one of your friends makes a new friend, and he won't shut up about him, and it gets kind of annoying."

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