Walter Martin’s Heartfelt “The Bear” Is an Autobiographical Song of Myth, Mystery, and Hope

Walter Martin © Melissa Martin
Walter Martin © Melissa Martin
Charmingly candid, achingly honest, and unapologetically intimate, Walter Martin’s “The Bear” is a radiant song straight from the heart: An autobiographical recounting of life in motion set to a stirring, smoldering folk rock groove.
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Stream: “The Bear” – Walter Martin

It’s an autobiographical story about trying to find hope and magic in an increasingly dark world.

The best singer/songwriters not only know how to tell their stories through song, but they also know how to bring a whole world to life in the process: Giving listeners an up-close and personal experience, such that by the time everything’s over, they feel connected to the music, to the story, and to the human behind it all. A good song moves you and shakes you; a great song leaves you feeling like you’ve made a friend. Charmingly candid, achingly honest, and unapologetically intimate, Walter Martin’s “The Bear” is a radiant song straight from the heart: An autobiographical set of reflections and observations from a life in motion set to a stirring, smoldering folk rock groove.

Coming away from this song, we undeniably feel like we’ve made a new friend in Martin – and what more can an artist ask for, when he shares himself so wholeheartedly through his art?

The Bear - Walter Martin
The Bear – Walter Martin
There’s a big blind bear who roams this road
Late at night, they say
You’ll see her in the shadows
As she walks her lonely way
Through the backyard beehives and woodpiles
She goes looking for her long-lost children
Or at least that’s what they say
So I sit here at my window
Where I dream someday she’ll pass
I see the rhododendrons I planted
And I think how time moves so fast
Like the moonlight and the electric light
Projecting paisley patterns on the grass

Initially released January 28, 2022, “The Bear” is the lead single and title track off Walter Martin’ recently-released eighth solo studio album The Bear (out now via Ile Flottante Music). An acclaimed songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and co-founder of indie rock band The Walkmen, Walter Martin is no stranger to the industry, nor does he require an introduction: His extensive decade-spanning, genre-bending catalog speaks for itself. Nevertheless, there’s something exciting and refreshing about The Bear: Martin’s latest record isn’t necessarily a “rebirth,” but it can certainly feel like one at times.

The Bear feels like the kind of album I’ve been building towards for my entire career,” Martin shares. “I don’t think I’ve had the nerve to be this honest, this autobiographical before, but more than anything I’ve ever written, these songs explain who I am and why I make this stuff.”

Walter Martin © Melissa Martin
Walter Martin © Melissa Martin

“The Bear” is a particularly resonant example of its parent album’s openness, sincerity, poetry, and color: A song that opens (and closes) with this myth of a “big blind bear who roams this road late at night,” and in-between finds Martin sharing his own stories, memories, hopes, dreams, and wonderings:

And I look down at the scar on my hand
And I remember the first time I got drunk
And I think of my best friend back then
How he slept with my girlfriend, that punk
And I don’t know, no I don’t know
Where my memories should go
The good and the bad I cherish them so
I had a dream that I was in a mid-level rock ’n’ roll band
Played every shit-hole nightclub across this whole entire land
When I woke up I was glad to see I’d left that life behind
But by then I was bald, broke and thirty-nine
Wasn’t exactly my plan

This is the story of Walter Martin the artist and Walter Martin the man. He holds nothing back in telling his tale through his own eyes, painting through warm lyrics and instrumental accompaniment a vivid, compelling portrayal of special moments, feelings, and life’s flow through the years:

So I left the city lights and now I’m living my own dream
I married the local beauty queen
We built ourselves a home
Watching wavy water running down the stream
Making babies and raising chickens
Out here where the buffalo roam

“This song was inspired by the myth of a blind bear on my road,” Walter tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s an autobiographical story about trying to find hope and magic in an increasingly dark world.”

“‘The Bear’ originally had the groove from ‘In Da Club’ by 50 Cent as the beat,” he elaborates. “Well, that’s what I was going for and that’s what made it feel fresh and thrilling enough to get me really excited about it. Over time, the groove fell into this nice, easy rhythm but still has a bit of that original funky feel. Musically it’s based around a pretty simple chord structure that doesn’t resolve until the last section of the song when the lyrics kind of resolve as well. In essence, it’s an autobiographical story-song about myth and mystery and hope — inspired by a local legend of a blind bear. It’s kind of about trying to keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss anything. Emile Mosseri played the amazing piano parts. Josh Kaufman and Harrison Whitford played the guitars, Josh Adams played the drums, and I played the bass and sang. Oh, and Eric D. Johnson sang those lovely harmonies.”

Not only is “The Bear” a beautifully intimate and honest outpouring from Walter Martin himself, but it’s also a who’s who indie artistry, featuring a smorgasbord of incredibly talented musicians and acclaimed artists in their own right.

Walter Martin © Melissa Martin
Walter Martin © Melissa Martin

But late at night
As the tall trees sway
Our weary world weeps
The fire in the hill
Scared the birds away
And oh so restless we sleep
And I don’t know, Lord I don’t know
How the story should end
And as I look up at that night sky
The music begins

“The Bear” feels pure: A masterful piece of music that deserves further study in its own right, Walter Martin’s story-song brings together the past, the present, and the future with remarkable clarity, candor, humor, and striking detail. He welcomes us into his world by bringing it to life all around us, giving listeners a potent taste of “the Walter Martin experience” that we won’t soon forget.

Stars are everywhere
C’mon just take a look up there
They fill the darkest corners of the darkest air
They go where satellites would never ever dare
And then suddenly, over there
I see the bear

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:: stream/purchase The Bear here ::
Stream: “The Bear” – Walter Martin

— — — —

The Bear - Walter Martin

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