Thursday, March 14, 2019

Sam Stringfield's new single, on priests and porn, got a hand from Ben Folds

Unholy Scroll

Posted by Kelly Rae Smith on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 8:22 AM

click to enlarge benfoldssamstringfield.jpg
Sam Stringfield's new single "Clear History" was shaped by a conversation with the songwriter's hero, Ben Folds.

"Last year I was selected to be in a songwriting workshop with Ben Folds, who's a big influence of mine," says Springfield, who, like Folds, plays keys. "It was an amazing experience where we'd write two songs a day based on prompts that Ben would give us and then play them for him and get feedback."

One prompt challenged the songwriters to open their vault of discarded, unfinished pieces — something every single writer has. The unfinished song Stringfield chose was written after he'd heard about a preacher who would mention, in every sermon, that he was addicted to porn. "The ideas of religious guilt and porn addiction helped shape the idea of Clear History," Stringfield says.

The songwriter had originally shelved the songs for two reasons. "One, I didn't know — and still really don't — how people would react to a song that so blatantly mentions porn right off the bat," he says. "Also, I wasn't happy with the second verse and couldn't figure out how to wrap up the song."


But a session with Folds changed that.

"When I played my initial version of the song, the porn part was received surprisingly well by the group and Ben said he felt I was on to something," he says. "I later had a one-on-one conversation with him about it and during that talk I came up with the idea to wait until the end of the song to reveal that the entire song is the narrator confessing his sins to a priest."

Stringfield reworked the track accordingly before hitting the studio. The song was produced and mixed by Matt Zutell and mastered by Matthew Garber.

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