John K. Samson – Postdoc Blues (Music Video)

by Steven Spoerl


EDITOR’S NOTE: This series of posts reflects back on some of the best material to be released over the past few weeks. Each post with this heading is a part of this series. After this series has concluded regular coverage will resume. 

In what was a genuine outlier for this site, a piece went up tracking the extended, devastating narrative John K. Samson constructed and maintained through his work with The Weakerthans and as a solo artist. That narrative, the Virtute trilogy, came to a shattering conclusion in Samson’s most recent effort, Winter Wheat. A poignant reminder of Samson’s formidable talent, the record carries the emotive strength that’s endeared the songwriter to so many for well over a decade.

While “Virtute at Rest” may pack the hardest punch, Winter Wheat‘s absolutely loaded with gems. “Postdoc Blues”, in particular, is a characteristically insightful look into the fractured psyches that typically comprise the upper echelons of academia. There’s palpable heartbreak on display but, as always, it’s laced with an empathetic sense of hope that manages to simultaneously elevate both sides of a complicated dichotomy.

“Postdoc Blues” on its own is a remarkable work and is rightfully being lauded as one of Samson’s finest offerings but the Nathan Boey-directed animated clip takes the song to exhilarating new heights. Created for the Leap Manifesto project, “Postdoc Blues” takes on an additional impact as it’s tied to an important cause. The animation — which comes courtesy of Kevin Langdale, Kaho Yoshida, and Boey — is very direct in its interpretation, wisely opting to emphasize Samson’s narrative instead of taking a more interpretive angle.

The end result’s both comforting and endlessly fascinating, providing splashes of color that enliven every last second of “Postdoc Blues”. It’s abundantly clear that a lot of love was poured into this project and the final product, while modest, is dazzling. Simplistic, pointed, and brilliant, “Postdoc Blues” transcends its concept and winds up as one of the year’s most unexpectedly arresting clips. Give in to its charms and get lost in its attentive warmth.

Watch “Postdoc Blues” below and pick up a copy of Winter Wheat here.