Donnie Doolittle, a North Carolina-based musician, has released his debut self-titled LP, Donnie Doolittle, today, on April 7, 2023. Known for his moody, synth-driven anthems that blur the lines between dark retro-pop and melancholic rock-and-roll. His unique sound has earned him a variety of labels, including “Southern New-Wave” and “Goth Americana,” and has drawn comparisons to iconic artists like Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and Iggy Pop.
Donnie’s debut LP, available as a Double LP and on all digital streaming platforms, is a testament to his versatility as a musician. The album features ten tracks that showcase his ability to blend bright, poppy melodies with ominous soundscapes, resulting in an intriguing combination of light and dark.
I’ve made music for years, but I consider this album to be my first work of art. So many emotions and personal eras are wrapped up in its making and release. It’s evolution involved love and loss, global and personal crisis, intense self-scrutiny and betterment, and countless hours of work that I had previously been unwilling/unable to put forth. I am a different person than I was at this project’s start. I am proud of my team and extremely grateful for them (most notably: Polly Doolittle, Jesse Clasen, and Josh Rob Thomas). I am proud of what we’ve made and very excited for what’s to come. This album is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Noah Warner, whose life and death struck me to my core.
In his track-by-track breakdown, Donnie describes each song on the album as having its own unique story and meaning.
This song was inspired by the concept of alchemy, the transformation of baser metals into gold. I wrote it at a time in which I considered myself to be of a lesser form of who I could be. It’s about having hope in oneself, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.
Resurrect Me –
I started writing this song after learning about so-called “resurrection men”, body snatchers in the 18th and 19th centuries that would exhume corpses from graveyards and sell them to medical schools for research and teaching purposes. I was interested in the idea of someone seeing value in these buried and abandoned vessels, and putting in the work to give them a second chance at showing their worth above ground. I related to the dead people in this scenario.
Utopia’s Shit –
I guess this is a breakup song. It’s about summoning the courage to sever a tie from which nobody benefits. It speaks to the truth that, even if a relationship is absolutely hellish, ending it can still be an extremely difficult conclusion. And it’s implementation can still lead to despair, horror, and doubt.
Guess You’ll Do –
This song is about self-centered dependency on constant validation. The narrator’s need for immediate attention supersedes any notions of “true love”.
I’m a Man –
In this song I played with the unfortunate notions and realities of what it is to be “manly”. Full of bold synthesizers and satire, the end result is equal parts laughable and tragic — a dark comedy.
I‘ll Do It Again –
This song is about being trapped in a cycle of bad behavior, recognizing it, wavering between the willingness to change and self-deprecating justification (e.g. “that’s just the the way I am”), and the self-absorbed sense of entitlement to never-ending “second” chances.
This Wonderful World –
I wrote the majority of this song at the height of the 2020 quarantine, when the world was an especially frightening place. Like many, I temporarily lost myself. I was feeding into my own fear. It’s a reflection on the cycles of panic our society is constantly put through and how I wish we could put a stop to it
Got a Feelin’ –
I wrote this song piece-by-piece, a little at a time, over the course of a few tumultuous years in my life. I started it, and always seemed to return to it, during times of unrest. It began as something I played on the piano, with the first lyric, “I’ve got a feelin’”. The rest of the lyrics ended up being a nonchronological portrayal of how I felt during trying times. It wasn’t until I reexamined the origins of this song in order to write this quote that I realized “Got a Feelin’” is really about feeling, rather than narrative. It takes me back to some sad chapters of my life, but also some beautiful moments I’ve shared with loved ones I’ve lost along the way.
You Cannot Know Me –
In this song, the narrator lives what they deem to be a sad and deplorable existence. When they see an admirable person lured to their level, they say “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. I do.” It’s about looking out for others while neglecting yourself. Maybe it’s because you sincerely care for them. Maybe it’s because you compulsively hoard pity and don’t feel like sharing. Or maybe it’s because you desperately crave some semblance of virtue. Quite possibly, it’s a mixture of all three and you don’t even recognize it. While blatantly looking out for others is admirable and important, it’s also often a truly self-centered endeavor, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
When a Woman –
This song was inspired by a scene from the film Wake in Fright. It speaks to the understanding and appreciation, as a man, that women have a sexual appetite too. And it’s not tied to their status as “good” or “bad.” Consensual sex is a human urge and there’s nothing wrong it, for any of us.
There Goes My Pain –
This is probably my most autobiographical and self-aware song. I wrote it while coming to the acknowledgement that I was in the throws of a terrible addiction and on the verge of losing all the things that made my life worth living.
No Soul –
This song was inspired by a scene in the first chapter of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men. It’s a supreme example of tone-setting and foreshadowing, by one of my all-time favorite authors. Similarly, with this debut album (the first chapter of Donnie Doolittle), I wanted to set a tone and herald what I’ve got coming down the pike.
You can check out his debut self-titled LP, available now.
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