Time Out New York

Music on location: Tom Brosseau sings in Tompkins Square caf appeared in Time Out New York on June 24th, 2009. Interview by staff writer Sophie Harris.

We’ve been following North Dakota-born songman Tom Brosseau pretty closely this year. First we filmed part of his SXSW show, then we featured his new single. So with Brosseau’s new album being released this week on Fat Cat, we figured it was time to have a proper catch-up with him. I met Brosseau in a sunny Tompkins Square Park caf to talk about Posthumous Success, and ask him what brought on the change in style—you can read the full interview here. Brosseau played us two songs; “Empty Houses Are Lonely” and “Been True,” while the only other customer in the caf watched, looking very pleased indeed. “Been True” follows after the jump, along with Brosseau’s pick of favorite fiery songs, to match the defiant tone of Posthumous Success.

Tom Brosseau’s top three defiant musical moments

Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan: “In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.”

Brosseau: “There’s a higher power at work, a greater one at least, that keeps busy around the clock. I’ve been guilty forgetting this, that no matter what knots currently bog down, what ruts wheels are stuck, there’s a design to it all.”

The Stranger Song” by Leonard Cohen: “While he talks his dreams to sleep you notice there’s a highway that’s curling up like smoke above his shoulder.”

Brosseau: “B. Mackowitz, this kid I used to know, was into bad business, dangerous stuff, and he’d stop by to say hi, just looking for something to drink, something to eat, a chance to forget about things for a while. That was when I was at college in St. Paul. I had a card table, that was it. Petey, myself, little Hank and B., all childhood chums, would congregate. B. was always the last to leave. He’d sit there at the card table drunk, exhausted, talking and dreaming at the same time, always a cigarette in the ashtray. He was my best friend but I could never help him. That smoke, it rises straight, then folds, then disappears.”

Boys of Summer” by Don Henley: “You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby.”

Brosseau: “Articles of fashion define moments and attitudes, however short-lived, like Sassoon and Jordache, Benetton and Girbaud, even Stadia and Pro Wings. Bausch & Lomb beat all that. Eyewear became more of a thing you wore to keep your hair tied or hang from your collar, don indoors or at night. Jack wouldn’t have been Jack, Bob wouldn’t have been Bob, those guys on the TV series wouldn’t have been as cool in those viscose, pink suits. But that line kills me.”