Album cover: Li(f)e

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Sage Francis Bio

"All great truths begin as blasphemies," proclaimed the fiery playwright George Bernard Shaw. It's a sentiment that can be applied exponentially to the works of rapper Sage Francis and his exhilarating new album Li(f)e. Francis has never been afraid to provoke. As a result he is a sometimes polarizing and increasingly important figure in modern music. Adored by many, reviled by a few but never ignored and always essential, Sage Francis has emerged as the reigning agent provocateur of hip hop. Read more



LI(F)E BLOG

LI(F)E song descriptions & Zane Lowe interview!

“The Best Of Times” has currently reached the #28 spot on the UK iTunes Alternative song chart well in advance of the album’s release! Below is a snippet of my iCHAT interview with Zane Lowe. My current charting in the UK is due in large part to this man’s support so THANK YOU!

A great number of people have pre-ordered LI(F)E which we’re extremely happy about. In fact, a few thousand CD’s were placed on my driveway today. The UPS man curses me under his breath but deep down I know he loves me. I’m about to start signing these suckers and packaging them up with the help of the folks at Strange Famous.

As a bonus item for our fans and supporters, while they wait for their packages to ship, I have written notes on each of the 12 songs from my new album. Below are my descriptions, inspirations and personal insights for each song. LI(F)E drops on May 11th!


1) Little Houdini

Christopher Daniel Gay broke out of captivity enough times for him to be dubbed “Little Houdini” by the press who managed to cover his story. I first came across news of Christopher in 2006 and decided to keep up with his escapades. I saved the details of his prison breaks in hopes of doing a song about him at some point. The first time he broke free from the law was to visit his dying father. The second time it was to visit his dying mother. The third time was for good measure. There wasn’t much press about this story at all. Nothing national at least, which I still find strange. I put together what details I could and used a few lines from the actual news stories. The original article said, “This is what country songs are made of.” I thought to myself, “Sure…but this is also what a rap song can be made of.”

At the tail end of this song there is a recording of an interaction I had with a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses who visited my house one morning. Luckily, I had my digital recorder close by so I clicked the record button and put the recorder in my shirt pocket. As you’ll hear, and as you’ve probably heard before, they like to offer us the world.

2) Three Sheets To The Wind

The phrase “three sheets to the wind” is something people use to describe someone who is sloppy drunk. After hearing the phrase my whole life, and even using it a couple times myself, I became curious as to where the phrase originated from. Apparently it’s an old sailing term. The “sheets” are actually the ropes that are attached to the sail. When these ropes come loose they flop around like a stumbling drunk person, their movement at the mercy of the wind. Once I found that out, the rest of the song flowed from there. Heck, my mom is a sailor. And I talk like one.

A bulk of this song is about the disciplines I maintained as a kid in order to achieve what I wanted in life. When kids would go get high or drunk I decided to stay focused and work on my music. I lost a lot of friends because of that. Hell, it probably turned me into a recluse of sorts. The more time I spent on myself and in my own head the more I came to realize where all my hate and anger was coming from. I was masking my fear. Most of us seem to be fueled by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of amounting to nothing, fear of having no purpose. We pick our poisons as a means of escape. We all have our crutches and we all have our addictions. I always thought I wanted to live forever. Couldn’t imagine the possibility of that not happening. Until I could.

3) I Was Zero

In this song we take the listener from pre-birth to the afterlife in a universe ruled by creationism and intelligent design. Overburdened by rules and structure, the narrator develops himself from nothingness into somethingness while adhering to the ridiculousness of both man’s law and God’s law.

4) Slow Man

This song went through quite the journey before it became the official version people are now hearing. It’s been over a decade ago since I had my short stint as a resident of Brooklyn, NY but much of the song has me reflecting back on that time, applying it to my current living situation. I’m not sure if it was because of the energy of that city or because I was still young and impressionable, but it definitely made its impact. Everything between now and then seems like a blur, but of course back then nothing was moving fast enough for me. The slow man likes to hurry up and wait.

This song’s lyrics were written a few years ago (soon after my first release on Epitaph) and here I am finally incorporating them into a song 5 years later. I remember writing these lyrics as if it were last week. The main purpose of this song is to explain how I feel like the world is moving too fast around me and I’m tired of trying to keep up with it. There’s nothing young about what we do.

5) Diamonds And Pearls

Ever been lied to so much that it becomes easier and healthier to accept the lie rather than confront the truth? This song was originally inspired by a liar of that sort. Once I started writing the lyrics, a greater concept evolved and that’s what saved it from being tucked away into a notebook and/or burned at the stake. It’s not about diamonds or pearls and it has nothing to do with Prince.

6) Polterzeitgeist

At its core this song is about co-dependency. It’s broken down into segments that highlight various manifestations of co-dependency including, but not restricted to, over-the-counter drugs, under-the-counter drugs, significant others, insignificant others, God, Satan and all the possessive little demons in between. Leave this body, leave this body, leave this body, BE GONE!

7) The Baby Stays

This song navigates through a sensitive subject matter I don’t think I’ve ever heard addressed in a song. Not in this way at least. The song originally was written from the perspective of a man who has to deal with the reality that he has no choice as to whether a baby he helped conceive gets to be born or not. I developed it from there, quantum leaping the narration which goes from his perspective to the woman’s perspective to the baby’s perspective. Social stigma aside, this fight scheduled for two rounds. It’s an abortion Vs. The birth of an unwanted baby.

8 ) 16 Years

I lowered the bucket inside of myself and retrieved a collection of unfettered reflections going back 16 years. Going back to the time when life got “really real” for me and realizing how differently I interpret myself and the world around me since that point. The ambiguity of the writing provides just enough comfort and padding for my good conscience.

9) Worry Not

This is a self-affirmation of sorts. It’s a reminder to myself, and hopefully to others, that we need to shed ourselves of the needless stress bestowed upon us via our home, work, school and religion. Certain types of stress are good for us. It can assist in our development, productivity and evolution. However, when we measure our worth by the arbitrary demands made by the institutions we are born into, there needs to be an awakening at some point where we think for ourselves and do for ourselves. That’s the best way to serve others (if you do, in fact, have a desire to serve others.) Since I tend to get wrapped up in my own work and responsibilities, this is as much a reminder to myself as it is to the listener.

10) London Bridge

I got to thinking about the meaning behind the original “The London Bridge is Falling Down” nursery rhyme. I researched it and discovered it had all the ingredients I needed to cook up something fun. As a native New Englander, I had the story of the Boston Tea Party crammed down my throat all through school. As diluted as that lesson may have become through the years, the Boston Tea Party remains to be one of the greatest examples of direct action and acts of political defiance in US history. London Bridge got me thinking about The Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party got me thinking about Gandhi’s Salt March in India, which was also a great political protest against Great Britain. All of these connections unfolded into a song about bully empires, civil uprisings, the decay of national monuments, social collapse and ultimately the death of all tradition.

11) Love The Lie

In this song we run through the adventures of a sick person unwilling to seek professional help and all the fun things that happen to children who have to juggle the realities and fallacies they’ve inherited from a broken home. Pick your lie and love it if it loves you back, that’s what I say.

12) The Best Of Times

This is a string of raw and revealing moments from my upbringing that seem to have molded my adulthood. Vulnerable and embarrassing tidbits of info that sit in the back of my head at all times. The thesis of the song seems to be about how we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that the tough and embarrassing moments of our life are much bigger than they actually are. Especially as kids, when we believe that every obstacle we encounter seems like the end of the world. That’s probably the greatest lie of our lives. It’s a lie that is so convincing that some of us kill ourselves over it. It’s important to remember that when all seems lost it really isn’t. As the old credo goes, “This too shall pass.”

20 Responses to “LI(F)E song descriptions & Zane Lowe interview!”

  1. @mattraymond says:

    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and will, without a doubt, enhance my listening experience.

  2. Steve Woeltge says:

    Your awareness about the human condition is always astounding. Your insight is phenomenal and always fun to relate to. Thanks for all the memories I forgot about!

  3. Maxime V. says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write all this. It is truly appreciated from all of us fans.

    Can’t wait to finally hear the stuff.

  4. Lee says:

    Thanks for taking the time to explain the meaning behind each song! It really means a lot and helps to paint the picture to each track for when we listen to them for the first time. I can tell this will be another amazing work of art from one of my all-time favorite artists. Looking forward to receiving my copy. Thanks again Sage! ~Lee~

  5. Joe Buchholz says:

    I’m glad you posted this, because it really helps with the digestion of the music. Sometimes it can be off-putting when you don’t even know where to begin interpreting lyrics. Hopefully there will be some liner notes included with the lyrics booklet.

  6. kadyelle says:

    “The ambiguity of the writing provides just enough comfort and padding for my good conscience.”
    it makes it all the more fun to analyse and unravel!
    love a good track-by-track, thanks fran!

  7. Cadnr says:

    Great stuff. Thanks Sage

  8. Sam says:

    never stop. never stop. never stop. Your music helps me cope with so much, especially The End Of Times. I listen to it 10 times a day and keep telling myself, no matter how tough it is right now, its not the end of the world.

  9. Zan says:

    Thanks for everything Sage, you got me through rough times and every time I hear your music my spine tingles. I cant wait to see you in Carrboro, NC.

  10. ian says:

    YO SAGE-i hope you keep this up after the album drops-i refuse to read it until after i’ve heard the songs myself. Don’t wanna spoil the surprise!

    foril tho-hope its still here!

    TILL THE 11TH FOOOO L.

  11. ian says:

    OH, and thanks for posting it also-great stuff-cant wait to read it!! ohh sage song insights….we will meet again. but not yet.

    not…yet….

  12. Sage Francis, at first the name sounded funny, and I decided to look into it. Now, I see a great architect constructing the universe in his design. A 16 year old from the Philippines, touched by the masterpieces of the mind in which Sage specializes. A 16 year old, quite misunderstood with his works. A 16 year old, swimming away from the docks after a boat, while his comrades wait in stunned silence as the depth of the boy increases arpidly, following the ship who sails over the depths as if it were a mere 3 feet in depth. Amazing work you have, and I congratulate you, comrade. The field of music is one powerful tool in which you plant the knowledgeable seeds of li(f)e into. The seedlings are fed, yet many won’t eat as if they were a child was eating broccoli from the Brollicude. Though some digest, and some protest, the shield of a flak vest is a shield, no less.

    I’m a big fan, though I can’t afford. I’ll still follow!

  13. Matt Ld Anachrony Villapol says:

    Sage Francis, at first the name sounded funny, and I decided to look into it. Now, I see a great architect constructing the universe in his design. A 16 year old from the Philippines, touched by the masterpieces of the mind in which Sage specializes. A 16 year old, quite misunderstood with his works. A 16 year old, swimming away from the docks after a boat, while his comrades wait in stunned silence as the depth of the boy increases arpidly, following the ship who sails over the depths as if it were a mere 3 feet in depth. Amazing work you have, and I congratulate you, comrade. The field of music is one powerful tool in which you plant the knowledgeable seeds of li(f)e into. The seedlings are fed, yet many won’t eat as if they were a child was eating broccoli from the Brollicude. Though some digest, and some protest, the shield of a flak vest is a shield, no less.

    I am a fan though, I cannot afford. I will still follow!

  14. KaymunEyeLands says:

    Excellent. This whets the appetite even more for the album. Heard The Best of Times, and it’s utterly fantastic. Engaging, emotional and heartfelt, a joy to listen to. I don’t know how a song about your high school fears managed to sound like the soundtrack to my own childhood here in Scotland. Top, top work.

  15. bresdin says:

    <3 <3 thank you sage

  16. Marrik says:

    Had to order it through amzon. Still can’t wait. Why do people have to ruin the excitement by uploading it to youtube. I couldn’t hold myself back.

  17. Kelly says:

    Best album I have heard in a long time. Makes me happy to be alive. Thanks, Sage. Keep doing what you do.

  18. Clark says:

    Thanks for stopping by Missoula, we hope you’ll stop by again on the next tour :)

  19. J.Benson says:

    Really good to find out the basis the songs evolve from.

    The first time I heard ‘Best of Times’ I was awestruck as the score seemed to be the perfect partner for the lyrics and mood of each segment/part of your life as it moved on.

    I can’t wait to see you in Manch on 18th Sept :-D