Watch Ben Harper Rehearse Poignant New Songs With Innocent Criminals
At one point during the Santa Monica rehearsals, Harper called for a break and invited the band to join him at his teenage son’s track meet at nearby Santa Monica High. They all agreed and watched as the younger Harper competed in several events. (Also cheering him on was his mother and Harper’s ex-wife, actress Laura Dern.)
“It felt like something they might enjoy and something we could all do together as an outing,” Harper said of the band. “That’s how we’re trying to operate now, with family first.”
The album’s closing track, “Goodbye to You,” is an emotional ballad of uncertain farewell, as Harper sings: “Passed by where we used to go, where I now go alone/Everything we had to brave, I’m left here to face on my own.” The words could be to a lover, a friend, an entire band.
The song was originally followed by two more tracks, but at the first playback party in Los Angeles the day final mixing was completed, Harper got some advice from an unexpected source: comedian Chris Rock, who recognized that the weight of “Goodbye to You” meant nothing could follow.
“He said, ‘I don’t care what is after that – that’s it,'” Harper recalls with a smile. “And sure enough he was right.”