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See it Live
This Friday, October 26th, Ann Magnuson will be present at Navel in Los Angeles for a screening of The Hunger and to premiere “The Sun Don’t Care” on the big screen. Tickets are $15 and include an afterparty, purchase here!
Ann Magnuson’s new song “The Sun Don’t Care” draws on her West Virginia roots to deliver an Appalachian-inspired spiritual ballad for today’s troubled times.
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, Ann Magnuson is an actress, writer, musician and artist who is probably best known as the front woman for the band Bongwater. Currently appearing on Season 3 of the Amazon Prime series “The Man in the High Castle”, she guest-curated the critically acclaimed Club 57 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, and was recently inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
The music video for “The Sun Don’t Care” features original folk art sculptures of The Sun that Magnuson created as well as homemade dolls crocheted by her Grandma Magnuson. The video also incorporates family home movies shot by Ann’s father during her West Virginia childhood. But, the literal star of the video is our Sun, particularly as seen in public domain footage created by NASA. While Magnuson does appear briefly, her avatar in the video is Arzetta, a doll created (with others) by Grandma Magnuson in 1950s West Virginia.
“Grandma was Swedish by birth and came to America when she was 6 months old. ” says Magnuson of her grandmother “My grandfather was a Swedish evangelist who preached the gospel to immigrant communities in the mid-west in the early part of the 20th century. Grandma’s favorite expression was “The Lord Will Provide” which meant no matter how bad things got – and things got real bad for them during the Depression and WW2- a higher power would prevail and make everything okay. It’s that kind of optimism, along with the way Grandma never threw anything away and created artwork and aesthetic out of those remnants, that inspires this song and video.”
Artist and filmmaker Adam Dugas co-directed the video with Magnuson and edited the piece, a dreamlike solar journey. “Ann told me that her new art movement is SurRURALism, so I ran with that concept,” says Dugas. “Using Arzetta [the main doll] as the speaker was really liberating, I created a world for her using the spectacular NASA sun-scapes. I also liked how humble so many of the elements are – dolls, folk art, the Magnuson family home movies from the 60s – and also iPhone footage that Ann shot of various sun reflections as well as the sun masked by smoke from the apocalyptic California wildfires fires this year. Utilizing all these colloquial elements felt in tune with the jug band quality of the song.”
The simple DIY acoustic production of the music track reflects Magnuson’s West Virginia roots, as does her improvised Bible Belt style ‘preaching.’ Longtime collaborator Joe Berardi plays a variety of homespun percussive instruments like spoons, jug and an old bucket as well as an out-of-tune Autoharp. Magnuson provides vocals as well as improvising on a traditional mouth harp. The track was recorded and mixed by Mark Wheaton at Catasonic Studios (in Echo Park, California) where Magnuson’s latest solo album DREAM GIRL was produced.
“The DIY nature of the music connects with the way Grandma made those dolls,” Magnuson explains. “Arzetta –the name actually comes from a nickname I had as a teenager – was fashioned from pipe cleaners and old nylon stockings and has a hand-embroidered face. The doll really is a piece of ‘outsider art’ that reflects the resourcefulness of my grandmother and other impoverished West Virginians who made the most of everything because they had next to nothing.”
“Grandma remains my greatest inspiration,” says Magnuson. “As I age, I find myself living more like her. She taught me how to sew (something I’ve recently returned to) and inspired me tell stories. Grandma was a great storyteller. I would sing along with her as she played hymns on her out-of-tune piano then help her make Swedish style cinnamon rolls. She even tried to teach me Swedish, but that never stuck. One thing Grandma did teach me that did stick was to stay optimistic – to keep a firm hold onto Hope, even during the bleakest of times.
“For me,” Magnuson continues “pondering the size of The Sun and the fact a gazillion hydrogen explosions are constantly happening and that is all that is keeping us alive…it fortifies me for some mystical reason. It keeps me from falling into an abyss of depression over how toxic our human culture has become. Especially politics.
“The lyric “The Sun Don’t Care who is President” doesn’t mean I don’t care who is President. Of course I care. But I need to know that the real power in charge is something bigger, something cosmic, something unknowable, something both scientific and spiritual, something that shines equally on the red state and the blue- and my hope is that all of us all stop fighting and plug into an optimistic positive energy and hopefully find solutions that help everyone. And if we can’t do that collectively, then we need to each individually “shine our light” of love into this world of pain – by being creative or just plain nice- and hope that positive energy will spread, the way the sun shines!
“The Sun Don’t Care” is about seeing the bigger picture. The Sun embodies the essence of a Higher Power, one that transcends ideology. I loved what Steven Hawking says, posthumously, in is new book: “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”
Directed by Adam Dugas and Ann Magnuson
Edited by Adam Dugas
Shot by Adam Dugas, Ann Magnuson and Sadie Spezzano
Sun footage and graphics courtesy of NASA
Sun vector graphic courtesy of footageisland
Home movies by Bob Magnuson
Arzetta doll created by Grandma Magnuson
© 2018 Ann Magnuson/Pink Fleece Music
All rights reserved
Written by Ann Magnuson
© 2018 Pink Fleece Music (BMI)
Administered by Pacific Electric Songs
Ann Magnuson – Vocals, Mouth Harp
Joe Berardi – Autoharp, Percussion, Spoons, Jug
Recorded and Mixed by Mark Wheaton at Catasonic Studios
© Ann Magnuson/Pink Fleece Music
All rights reserved