Geographer’s Mike Deni spent over a decade with San Francisco as his home base and creative space until departing last year for a six-month bout of wanderlust that ended with his alighting in Los Angeles in the fall. As being on the road is wont to do, his travels kindled memories of home — his real home, New Jersey, which he had left long ago after the tragic death of his sister.
Deni has culled the songs he wrote on the road into a new EP, which “I’m most likely going to call ‘New Jersey,’ but I’m not sure,” he says, and “Summer of My Discontentment” is the first single. Built over a beautiful, rolling piano line, it’s a stunning meditation that reveals the opposite forces at work during bouts of nostalgia — it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, if you will. Over three albums and three EPs, Geographer’s music has always proved evocative in a melancholic/hopeful way, but maybe not this breathtaking.
The song, Deni says, “began in what used to be my home, New Jersey, where I wrote the piano riff. … I filed it away for later, because I felt there was something special there, I just didn’t know what. I spent the month of August at my friend’s house in the Hollywood Hills, plant sitting, and looking for an apartment, and he had an old spinet piano from his wife’s grandfather, I think. One day I sat down and played something that reminded me of that riff, so I dug it out, and in two hours, I had written the entire song, everything except the lyrics.
“It would be a song capturing the feeling I had the summer before I went to college, when all I wanted to do was leave my tiny, sleepy, dead-end town in New Jersey, where I spent every night getting drunk in the woods or at parent-less houses with my five best friends,” he continues. “We used to drive around the backroads during the day, waste afternoons staring up at the sky and dreaming of what our lives would be. But always, in every dream, was the idea that we were the best friends we would ever have, this was the worst place we could possibly be, and soon nothing would be the same. Only one of those things turned out to actually be true, and now, looking back on that time, still true friends with only one of those people, I find myself yearning for the way it felt to dream straight into the dark, to long for things I didn’t even know the shape of, and to trust, to trust in life and the road I was set on.”
||| Stream: “Summer of My Discontentment”