Worth a Thousand Words: God's Favorite Customer
God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty:
If “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All,” Then God’s Favorite Customer Certainly Isn’t One of Them.
Released: June 1, 2018
Label: Sub Pop and Bella Union
Do you like cynicism that sounds like optimism? Sad songs that sound happy? Then look no further than Father John Misty! His most recent piece of work yet again combines sometimes somber, sometimes triumphant tunes with lyrics both sweet and salty alike. This record is for those struggling, made through an artist’s own struggle and strife.
Whereas the first two albums under Father John Misty’s belt came across as a little brighter, God’s Favorite Customer is markedly more somber and serious this time around. While the tracks on this record are incredibly self-aware, like a lot of Josh Tillman’s others, God’s Favorite Customer has even more heart and soul poured into it than his other albums, which already display his inner workings to the world so well.
One could draw a lot of comparisons between this album and other artists’ work. I’ve seen a lot of other people compare God’s Favorite Customer to John Lennon’s Imagine, which I can totally understand. Personally, I think this album could be seen as being close partners with Michael Penn’s Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947, or even some of Ben Folds’ slower pieces, like “The Luckiest,” mainly due in part to the singer-songwriter sound and instrumentation that was utilized for this entire work. We can make all the comparisons that we’d like, but at the end of the day this album stands on its own.
This album has a little bit of something for everyone if you enjoy Misty’s style. If you’re looking for something surreal, look no further than the track “Mr. Tillman.” Chronicling the debauchery of a rock star’s overnight stay, this song really breaks out the imagery and gets the listener to picture the scene in their mind. It’s hard not to imagine what Father John Misty has done to the place when you listen to this song:
“…you left your passport in the mini fridge…” and “Don't leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony…”, then finally “What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face.”
He must really live quite the life, eh? I could believe it. If you’re looking for something a little bit slower and ballad-like, I can’t help but to suggest “Just Dumb Enough to Try” or “The Palace.” Like some of his tracks off I Love You, Honeybear, including the title track, both of these songs are heartfelt, piano-led ballads that implore us to face our own insecurities head on. Take “The Palace,” for example; a shut-in, in this case Father John Misty, has taken up residency in a hotel, and is now too afraid to return to the real world. You can almost feel the same fear that he’s feeling in this track just by listening to it; he’s afraid that he won’t be able to return to normal life after getting used to being in his own bubble:
“Maybe I'll get a pet, learn how to take care of somebody else, but I think it might defeat the purpose. Living on housekeeping and room service…I don't wanna leave the palace.
Let's pay someone to move in here and fix this.”
You can’t blame the man, the world can be a hard, harsh place. If this song is being written from the perspective of our subject in “Mr. Tillman,” and the palace is really just that hotel he and his friends trashed, maybe he feels that its equally hard dropping his old lifestyle and changing for the better. According to an interview with Uncut, the inspiration for this song and the whole album came from the period of time surround the creation of God’s Favorite Customer, in which Tillman was holed-up living in a hotel while he wrote the album and handled some personal dealings.
This album is also very thoughtful, in FJM’s signature way. “Please Don’t Die,” as you can tell from both the title, and soon some of the lyrics, showcases that FJM is terrified of losing it all, including those close to him, not only because he cares for them, but they too care for him:
“One more cryptic message, thinking that I might end it…you must have woken up to me saying that it's all too much. I'll take it easy with the morbid stuff…and honey, I'm worried 'bout you. You're too much to lose, you're all that I have… so please don't die, wherever you are tonight.”
If you know anything about Josh Tillman’s documented history of depression, then reading these lyrics and listening to the song impact you just that much more. Personally, it was a little scary listening to this song; you can only hope for a happy ending. Even though that I know he’s probably safe and sound wherever he is right now, I can’t help but feel for the guy here; he pours his heart and soul into everything he makes.
Poignant, sometimes macabre, and totally sincere, God’s Favorite Customer is a treat for your ears and your soul. This is an album that can be digested in many different ways depending on where you’re at when you do, mentally and physically speaking; if you’re feeling down, then the lyrics will hit you the most, but if you’re feeling good, then the few upbeat tunes might be more to your liking. Either way, this record is a triumph over whatever demons Josh Tillman may have been fighting during this record’s inception. This record and the songs contained within in can all be singular rally songs for anyone who feels like they need the strength to leave their own palace and face what’s troubling them.
 Genius. Mr. Tillman Lyrics. 20 February 2018. Website. 28 November 2018. <(https://genius.com/Father-john-misty-mr-tillman-lyrics)>.
 Genius. The Palace Lyrics. 1 June 2018. Website. 28 November 2018. <(https://genius.com/Father-john-misty-the-palace-lyrics)>.
 Bonner, Michael. Father John Misty reveals the secrets of his next album in the new issue of Uncut. 16 November 2017. Website. 28 November 2018. <https://www.uncut.co.uk/news/father-john-misty-reveals-secrets-next-album-new-issue-uncut-102403>.
 Genius. Please Don’t Die Lyrics. 30 May 2018. Website. 28 November 2018. <(https://genius.com/Father-john-misty-please-dont-die-lyrics)>.
 Holmes, Lindsay. Father John Misty Nails Why People With Depression Don't Speak Up. 21 June 2017. Website. 28 November 2018. <https://www.huffpost.com/entry/father-john-misty-depression_n_59495dbfe4b05eccf2b48a95>.