On the podcast Song Exploder, Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme broke down the elements of a new track American Valhalla from Iggy Pop’s 23rd album Post Pop Depression. In the rough, husky voice of a person who’s smoked 1,000 cigarettes, Iggy Pop describes how the melody and lyrics of the song came about.
American Valhalla details a character’s struggle to find an unknown paradise. Iggy says the song arose from Josh sending him a “shitty demo” and describing the concept of Valhalla as, “the most valid and superior paradise for warriors compared to the one’s from other cultures because you had to actually do something really brave to get in there.” Iggy decided to take this concept a step further saying, “This raises the question, is there an American Valhalla. Where is it? What is it?”
The two began collaborating in 2015 with then intention of doing a few songs. This eventually turned into the full album Post Pop Depression which, at age 68, Iggy says will be his final album. “This is gonna be my last one because I feel I can find more pleasure in witnessing things and being in a situation,” He said. “I like a nice sky, I like pretty clouds, I like to look at a beautiful sight, I like to bear witness more and more and less and less be involved in ‘yeah, I’m getting this’. Those are the things to me that go with the idea of a paradise.”
At the end of the song, Iggy repeats the words “I have nothing but my name.” Joshua Homme says this was because he wanted to highlight that, “It doesn’t resolve whether you make it to Valhalla, it’s just like ‘I’m at the gate and I have nothing but my name.’ It never actually crosses that threshold. It’s that seconds before. There’s a bitter sweetness there, like we’ll never know if you make it or not.”
Their conversation offers a much deeper exploration of the melodic elements as well as the lyrics, both Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme offer insights that artists often don’t share as freely or explain so eloquently.
Listen to the full podcast below.
Post Pop Depression was released on the 18th of March and you can buy it here.