Premiere: Inside Andy Zipf’s Tranquil & Stirring New Single, “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?”

Andy Zipf © Shervin Lainez
Andy Zipf © Shervin Lainez
An intimate and ethereal serenade, Andy Zipf’s achingly tender new single “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” stirs and soothes a soul all at once.
Stream: “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” – Andy Zipf

An intimate and ethereal serenade, Andy Zipf’s first single of the year is the kind of song that stirs and soothes the soul all at once: Achingly tender and heavy-hearted, “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” reflects on life’s passing and our transient nature through a warm wash of stirring imagery and tranquil folk sound.

Whether we interpret it as a reckoning with one’s fate, a poignant ascertainment of life itself, or a giant, colorful metaphor, there is no denying the inherent beauty and strength of Zipf’s songwriting.

Did You Know I Was A Ghost? - Andy Zipf
Did You Know I Was A Ghost? – Andy Zipf
Did you know I was a ghost? A feather in a flame
You struck the match and then you wrote my name
in the fadin smoke, with the cold hush left
that busted window pane still holds our breath
Did you hear that snap? That crackin twig?
Well, I was out back creepin then I tripped
on a couple of rocks and a garden gnome
this used to be the place that I called home

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?,” the lead single off Jacksonville, Florida-based singer/songwriter Andy Zipf’s forthcoming tenth album, How to Make A Paper Airplane (out March 11, 2022). Best known for his previous work with The Cowards Choir, which he grew from a solo project into an enchanting force, Andy Zipf has long had a penchant for the musically fragile and breathtaking. In premiering The Cowards Choir’s song “The Singing Tree” in 2017, we praised the artist and his group’s ability to channel raw passion into evocative energy as the song built from a whisper to a roar:

“Emotional music swells on every spine-tingling chorus as the passing of time calls a new generation to bear the fruits of the singing tree. The Cowards Choir look to the past, present, and future in capturing the delicate beauty and awesome power of time.”

Nearly five years later, it would seem Zipf continues to be inspired by time’s passing and our relationships with our future and former selves. “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” opens with its titular question; one imagines a narrator slowly waking up to the transient nature of their own existence, coming to terms with who they are and what they have become. “Did you know I was a ghost? A feather in a flame. You struck the match and then you wrote my name,” Zipf sings alongside a gentle acoustic guitar pattern. “With the fadin smoke, in the cold hush left, that busted window pane still holds our breath.” Time seems to have stopped as the artist gains his bearings, painting an evocative still life full of movement and deep feeling.

Andy Zipf © 2022
Andy Zipf © Shervin Lainez

“I wrote ‘Did You Know I Was A Ghost’ in the stairwell of a church with high ceilings, cinder block walls, and tile floors; a very reverberant space,” Zipf tells Atwood Magazine. “The chorus melody and lyric came to me first. The first verse is my elaboration on that idea… “I am a ghost…it’s weird man…I am spirit and bone…Did you know?” The second verse is self-reflection. I’m looking back. I’m looking ahead… “Did you know I was a child? And then I was a man…and then I was a picture in your hand…” I am playing with images a lot in this one and it can mean different things to me. I’m looking forward to what listeners hear in it, and how they might interpret the story.”

“I recorded this song, and the entire record in isolation. My family and I had just moved to Jacksonville, FL where I am now the Director of Music & Artist in Residence at a church. At night, when no one was around, I would use the empty sanctuary as my studio space. The reverb you hear on this track is mainly from that physical space. After tracking Did You Know I Was A Ghost? and the rest of the album, I sent them to my friend and producer Matt Williams. He asked me, “What’s your plan with these songs?” “You’re looking at it”, I said. I had hoped Matt would mix what I tracked on my own…instead he graciously suggested that we reach out to some players he’d worked with previously. That was 2018. Now, almost four years later some amazing people have contributed to this record: Jay Bellerose — drums (Robert Plant, Alison Krauss), Jennifer Condos — electric bass (Ray LaMontagne, Joe Henry), Dennis Crouch — double bass (Emmylou Harris, John Fogerty) and Tyler Chester — mellotron, organ, piano (Madison Cunningham, Andrew Bird).”

“I almost can’t believe we did it. Covid obviously turned the plan for this project upside down. We had some false starts and other complications.There were so many days that Matt and I spent on the phone just hoping and willing this album to get made. I’m so proud. It many ways, I feel like I have been trying to make this record since I started out. I hope people will find some part of their own story in the songs.”

Zipf’s chorus invites us to dwell in a moment of contemplation and solitude. An honest upheaval, it’s a moment for Zipf to unburden himself as he comes face-to-face with an unusual, perhaps unanticipated truth:

Did you know, did you know?
I am a ghost
It’s weird, man I am
spirit and bone
I am a ghost, did you know?

In asking, “did you know” so innocently and yet so pointedly, Zipf opens up his world and pulls us in there with him; how that impacts the listening experience is up to the individual, but it inevitably makes us a part of his own ghost story.

Andy Zipf © 2022
Andy Zipf
Did you know I was a child and then I was a man?
and then I was a picture in your hand
without a face, nickel scratched off
some drugstore lotto ticket that got lost
in the pocket of a corduroy coat
that I can’t bring myself to wear no more
reminds me of what doesn’t last
and all the pieces that fell through the cracks

Zipf says he chose to make his upcoming album How to Make A Paper Airplane a solo record because it came from a more solitary setting. One certainly feels the weight of being alone in his music, but it comes into fuller view via his accompanying music video.

“I created a 16×9 box out of white cardboard,” the artist says of his process. “After gluing sugar, salt, flour, cotton balls and torn fabric inside the box with my five year old son, I set to work on cutting out all of the lyrics with an Exacto knife. It took more than a few days. When a line was cut out, I would take a strip of Scotch tape and lay it over the letters…very slowly pick them up so as not to rip, or put out of line…then flip the lyrics over and put another strip of Scotch tape on the back side. To hang them in the box, I used long sewing pins + tape. The video was lit only with my busted iPhone 7 and some balls we got for my son at Five Below that light up when they’re struck. I like the way the light passes through each line. Ain’t no plug in or filter. Those are real things that I made with my hands. This entire process took…I don’t know…maybe a month? Maybe longer. I like that each letter is unique and cannot be duplicated. If I repeated a line, I didn’t reuse a tape/lyric strip. I made a new one. The details matter.”

The diorama conveys a sense of distance, like a lone house with boarded up windows: No one goes in, no one goes out, but someone’s inside.

Needless to say, How to Make A Paper Airplane promises to be a poignant, moving, and thought-provoking experience; its lead single is, in itself, a vessel of intense reflection and reckoning. Yet the true wonder of this song is its ability to maintain a sense of calm and serenity in the midst of a moment of turmoil and uncertainty; we inevitably come away from this music feeling soothed, rather than fraught or torn. Stream Andy Zipf’s “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” exclusively on Atwood Magazine.

Did you know, did you know?
I am a ghost
it’s strange, man I am
spirit and bone
I am a ghost
did you know I was a ghost?
I am a ghost
it’s weird, man I am
spirit and bone
I am a ghost
Did you know?

— —

:: stream/purchase “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” here ::
Stream: “Did You Know I Was A Ghost?” – Andy Zipf

— — — —

Did You Know I Was A Ghost? - Andy Zipf

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? © Shervin Lainez

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