The clip opens with the singer sauntering past Lexington Avenue in a cossack hat, boombox in hand. “All of the songs on my new record are about people,” he states in a voiceover. “The song ‘Here They Come’ is about a friend who tends to run from his problems.”
“I love him to death, but when the going gets tough, he tends to just cut and run,” he continues. “The song is about the specific moment when the lights are coming up in a movie theater where he’s been hiding out all day.”
Leithauser suspects that writing such detailed songs about people in his life may make them “touchy,” so he brings the boombox to the Café Carlyle in Manhattan — where the singer recently performed his third annual five-night residency in January.
He arrives to find an irritated Ethan Hawke, who appears to have finished off a bottle of red wine while waiting for his friend. The musician plays the actor “Here They Come,” a rollicking track that opens with Leithauser singing in a haunting, Leonard Cohen-like baritone over acoustic guitar before it escalates into a twangy earworm at the chorus: “I was a fool/I was blind/I kept my eyes shut half the time.”
Hawke abruptly turns off the boombox once he realizes the song is about him. He knocks Leithauser to the ground with a chair, then beats him up some more — shattering the wine glass on his head. “I guess you didn’t like it?” the musician asks.
“Gotta give a huge thanks to my man Ethan Hawke for delivering a knockout (pun intended) performance,” Leithauser tweeted of the clip. “It was an absolute hoot working with him.”
The former Walkmen frontman has reportedly been working on his upcoming album for the last four years. He recently joined Lana Del Rey on stage to perform a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in Nashville. His last single, 2017’s “Heartstruck (Wild Hunger)” featured Angel Olsen on vocals.