See Jose Gonzalez Go ‘Walter Mitty’ for Ryan Adams-Penned ‘Stay Alive’
Junip troubadour channels Ben Stiller in video for bittersweet folk-pop ballad
It isn’t hard to imagine José González being drawn to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Though the Swedish-Argentine singer-songwriter’s level of success far outpaces that of the James Thurber short story character, González’s glimpses of rock’n’roll fantasy tend to be fleeting, and from the outside: After his leftfield success covering the Knife’s “Heartbeats,” he offered 2007’s chilling, textural In Our Nature, and since then he has meandered gracefully through two albums with kraut-folk group Junip.
Ben Stiller directs and stars in an upcoming movie version of Walter Mitty, and a centerpiece of the December 17 soundtrack (if you don’t count Jack Johnson covering the piña colada song) is González’s recording of Ryan Adams-written “Stay Alive.” González features prominently on the soundtrack, whether with Junip or by himself, including choir-backed opener “Step Out” and similarly lush John Lennon cover “#9 Dream” (via The Wall Street Journal). This one, backed by a ticking clock, is a generous, piano-centered ballad; director Emmett Malloy’s video imagines González in Mitty’s milequest workaday milieu. When he sings about the new day’s rise, it’s with just the right balance between optimism and desperation.