Tag Archives: heartbreak

Unrequited, Rejected, + Disillusioned: “Painter In Your Pocket” by Destroyer

I have been listening to a lot of Destroyer lately, but their most famous song “Painter In Your Pocket” from the album Destroyer’s Rubies in particular.

You may not know Destroyer. You may not know Dan Bejar (if not you should because he is very talented and handsome!). You might know the musical collective kinda supergroup The New Pornographers. If the latter is true, you have heard Dan Bejar sing– he’s the gender ambiguous voice in “Myriad Harbor“.

Anyway, slowly dying Hero of the Masses SongMeanings.com lists the lyrics for “Painter In Your Pocket” and honorable human beings have shared there thoughts about what the song means. There was one interpretation that struck a cord with other listeners (myself being one of them):

the painter in her (or his?) pocket seems to refer to the person she’s with now, who is responsible for all of her new thoughts and mannerisms, artsy and ‘high minded’ ones given the ‘painter’ part. lovers turn into each other. i don’t know if dan is suggesting that her new self is affected, but i get that vibe.

schopenhauerpower on SongMeanings.com interpretation of “Painter In Your Pocket”

This interpretation makes the most sense to me, but I think saying it is one thing. Listening to the song, you can fill in your own experiences with unrequited romance or rejection. Lyrically, the song takes us on that journey as well as the journey of becoming disillusioned or unfamiliar with a lover or object of your affection.

The Wounded Deer, 1946 by Frida Kahlo

And while the lyrics are great, I like this song mainly because of the vocals and the insturmentals. Dan Bejar’s voice is unique, and it is perfect for taking listeners on a journey– he can take you way high or way low, and he’s great at delivering a song with the snark that comes along with the bitterness of being rejected and/or disillusioned.

Instrumentally, this song is also a journey for me. It starts with a bit of a prologue in the form of an acoustic guitar as Dan seems to talk about watching someone they love be their own person despite maybe missing this person. The song then shifts to a more mellow but somber sound with heavy bass drum. There are a few guitar breaks that allow for some introspection before the song ultimately picks up with more steady guitar, and you’re blasted by full on feelings with Dan sounding straight up exasperated at how much his lover has changed and what a stranger they have become.

Without the lyrics, the song might be able to pass for some hip ambient hotel music or elevator/waiting room music. However, the music combined with the lyrics take me on some sort of journey that give me a chance to navigate almost the entire grief process. Who are you? Do I even know you? Maybe I don’t. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe even for the best, but I wish you nothing but the best.

You can listen to the entire Destroyer’s Rubies album many places, but as you know, I prefer Spotify.