Every year, I try to get out to the Pacific Northwest to hike some trails and drink some local brews – coffee and otherwise. I didn’t make it in 2014, but a new video by the Denver-based band Ark Life is the next best thing.
Take a look at “Proud of Me Out There, Mama,” then read a Q&A with the band’s frontman-guitarist Jesse Elliott.
CMT Edge: There’s a lot of smiling and joy in the video for “Proud of Me Out There, Mama.” What goes through your mind when you watch it now?
Elliott: I think that’s the strange warmth of the West coming through. Those Joshua trees and infinite shorelines in the song, the people you see again for the first time in a year in Salt Lake City and Snohomish [Washington], and it’s like you never left. We’ve all really loved making a new home and community together in Denver and how it’s expanded out to the coast from here, and I think that’s what you may be referring to.
How did the idea for the song come to you?
If I remember right, and I never do, it might have started in a bit darker place than it ended up. The first line is, “You’d be proud of me out there, mama. You’d picture me holding my own … ” with the emphasis on the picturing. Like when you find yourself closing down that same old awful wonderful dive bar at the end of the night, but you just happen to be on the other end of the universe from where you usually are, so a lot of people outside that room might think you’re out there making all your dreams come true. And maybe you are.
I like the all-access feel to this video. Who filmed it, and how involved was the band in the editing?
Sarah Megyesy is a great friend of ours — a friend first, really, and then we gradually came to know her as a filmmaker, too, because she’s very humble about that. But because she’s so humble and honest and straightforward and actually kind of outrageous, all pretense drops away immediately around her. You just get to be yourself.
There were maybe like two suggestions we had for her in the editing and they were just kind of “facts” of the case, like, ‘Oh, Sarah, at the end, you should put the White Eagle marquee before the Tractor Tavern one — instead of after — since that was the order of the tour.’ Which, now that I hear myself saying that, seems completely stupid and irrelevant.
Did you get any proud feedback from mama?
Our moms in particular? Our moms are always great about supporting us. It’s funny to me, as the lyrics guy, because I wasn’t originally intending it to literally mean “mother” but using it more in the colloquial old school sense — could be your mother, could be a lover, could be a father or a god or an old friend or whatever else you dream up that’s far away that you miss — like “baby” or “son” or “listen honey” or “hey, you there.” But mothers are cool. We owe them our lives.