St. Vincent appeared on the latest episode of “Song Exploder.” She talked about her most recent single “New York,” and particularly the lyric, “You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me.” “I get a lot of pleasure from saying ‘fuck,’” Clark begins. “I just like the idea of using really blue language as a term of endearment. ‘This motherfucker, that motherfucker—no way! Motherfucker better get his shit together.’ My mom would be horrified, but I’ve been cursing like a sailor since I was 8. … ‘Motherfucker’ says, like, I know you inside and out. And you know me. Don’t pretend.” Listen to the full podcast below.
Clark explained that “New York” began in a text she sent a friend saying, “New York isn’t New York without you.” She then recorded an early, guitar-led version of the song in a voice memo, which can be listened to around the 4:20 mark, before hashing it out with Jack Antonoff. She talks about the line “I have lost a hero/I have lost a friend,” and the connection to the “purge” of music legends in 2016. “It’s very silly to make something like David Bowie’s death about me—it has nothing to do with me—but I will say that I was really affected. And I cried. I cried for somebody I didn’t even know. And I don’t know that I’ve done that before.” She says later in the episode, “It’s the first song I’ve written that I thought, ‘This might be someone’s favorite song.’ I’ve never had that experience before [laughs].”