Josh Radnor: “It Felt Like It Was a Song That Wanted to Exist” (Exclusive) on Writing the New Single “Learning”

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Regarding his most recent song, the musician and actor explains, “I had the strange experience of creating a song and then realising how much I wanted the song.”

Josh Radnor has never had problems going to sleep. But much like the rest of us, the adored singer-songwriter, actor, composer, and filmmaker occasionally finds himself struggling silently with life’s stresses, staying up till three in the morning.

In a recent interview with PEOPLE from the Brooklyn home he now shares with his fiancée, Radnor, 49, says, “My eyes just spring open, and it’s just like everything I’ve ever done wrong or every silly thing I’ve ever spoken or everything’s to come or what I hadn’t done yet comes to the forefront of my mind.” I simply believe that those hauntings that occur in the middle of the night are a very specific yet universal phenomenon.

2020 is the year that Radnor started writing the songs that would eventually be included on his forthcoming record Eulogy: Volume I, which is essentially an instructional handbook set to lovely music. It’s this kind of haunted that Radnor found herself living with nonstop.

“By the end of making it, I was really bonding to an individual in quite a special way,” Radnor recalls, ostensibly alluding to his fiancée, a psychologist in the New York region. “I begin recording with the combination of grief and anger.” “It was undoubtedly a journey.”

Writing his new song, “Learning,” and narrating the intricate tale of the feelings we all experience occasionally were also parts of this journey.

“There are times when I have the strange experience of crafting a composition and then recognizing why I needed the song,” says Radnor, who started recording music in 2013 alongside renowned Australian musician Ben Lee. And among those tunes is “Learning.”

“Learning” was inspired by friend and fellow composer Kyle Cox, who said in the writing session, “you’re learning to be lonely.” The song was written around the initial twelve months of the pandemic.

That served as its origin, as Radnor recalls. “I had been experimenting with a melody and harmony progression, so his lyrical concept and my musical idea kind of came together.”

If Radnor is telling the truth, though, he feels that “Learning” remains a song that floats in the atmosphere.

“We kind of grabbed it, like it was an opus that begged to exist or maybe it existed somewhere else,” adds Radnor. I believe that at first we were supposed to discuss loneliness, but instead we basically spoke about dread, and then we talked about sadness.

Though Radnor has always been most known for showing off his lighter side on sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother, where he played the popular Ted Mosby, it’s a fascinating tidal wash of emotions that he finds himself feeling in this chapter of his life.

Following the release of his debut solo EP, One More Then I’ll Let You Go, in 2021, Radnor says, “I’ve had to do some rehabilitation around some darker emotions.” These more somber feelings of melancholy, rage, and loneliness were not really welcomed in my childhood household. It reminds me of typing feelings on a keyboard. I was trained to play these keys only. And I’d say, “But I have all these notes,”

And his songs have an emotional lexicon that comes through.

According to Radnor, “life will kick you around as you get older.” It’s going to give you a beating. Midlife is unattainable without experiencing genuine grief and heartbreak, as well as being wounded and harming others, feeling lost, afraid, and alone. You get the whole spectrum of feelings, including happiness, success, and love, if you have been paying attention.

And while the gloomy undertone in Eulogy: Volume I, Radnor’s irrepressible comic side is still on display. The forthcoming album’s cover art is all that is required to be seen.

He laughs, “There’s a dancing corpse on it.” It’s this silly, entertaining, death-like picture. The album has a lot of references to death, both literally and figuratively. A significant portion of it is reflecting on the close of one chapter in your life and then appreciating the beauty of a fresh start.

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