All Songs Considered
10:01 am
Wed July 17, 2013

First Watch: Kingsley Flood, 'Sigh A While'

It's one thing for an artist to talk about his failures — that's easy fodder for a good song — but art at its best incites positive change. "Sigh A While," this song from Boston's Kingsley Flood, is written to inspire. Kingsley Flood's Naseem Khuri says this tune is about the failures in all of us, and in particular about the patterns we can fall into. "I wrote the song about a friend who for years assured me he'd quit his job and change the world with his art," Khuri writes in an email. "We were driving around in his beat-up car one day and he was making the same promises. While he was talking, I was thinking about the job he never left. And I was focused on the half-eaten lollipop stuck to the floor, wondering if things would ever change."

Director Christopher Cannucciari, who made the video for "Sigh A While," was thinking of an everyday, yet iconic sign of failure, a simple red road flare. That inspired this video, a single shot that pans slowly for 4:31. "When I first began thinking about a video for 'Sigh Awhile' it was the opening lyrics that really stuck out for me: 'The highway lights ain't blinding enough. I've tried to block out the photos and failures that put me on this road.' I immediately thought of highway flares, the warning of a failure ahead," Cannucciari writes. "I really wanted a long line of flares to stretch out, which would represent the shared failures that we all carry with us. The slow march of the drums and haunting 'oohs' later in the song gave me the idea of shooting the band shuffling along in one long take."

As with much art that looks simple, capturing this one long shot wasn't. "The production turned out to be a little crazier than we would have liked," Cannucciari writes. "I thought I was going overboard ordering 144 road flares, but after 12 takes we still hadn't gotten a good enough take and we counted 22 remaining flares. Somehow I convinced almost 50 people and the band to believe in this idea and it looked like it was all for nothing. The light was dwindling and it didn't look like we had a shot of getting the video we wanted. We were in the middle of nowhere. Desperately, we sent a few of the cast and crew out to every hardware store in the area (and in Southern New Hampshire there aren't many). We scrapped together just enough flares to squeeze in two more takes. We used the second to last one and it turned out perfectly."

Kingsley Flood will be playing this thoughtful tune and many of their more rocking moments from its album Battles at this year's Newport Folk Festival. According to Khuri, it's a bit of a dream come true for this band, a band that seems to understand where inspiration can lead.

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