Jason Isbell fans will get an unvarnished look at both the artist’s personal life and creative process in the upcoming documentary Running With Our Eyes Closed, which debuts Friday (April 7) on HBO and HBO Max. In the exclusive clip below, Isbell is seen recording the song “St. Peter’s Autograph” from his 2020 album Reunions shortly after a difficult moment with his wife and bandmate, Amanda Shires.
As director Sam Jones tells SPIN, “to provide some context for why the whole song is in the film, I would almost have to share some spoilers, because we see Jason recording this after a very emotional moment with his wife Amanda, and the two of them are estranged at this point in the film, and the melancholy and hopelessness of the lyrics reflect what a difficult time they were having.”
He continues, “Jason’s recording process is very different from any other artist I have ever seen. The band had never even heard this song until five minutes before they started recording it, and this clip shows how concentrated the whole band is on listening to the lyrics and the chord changes to best support the theme and tone of the song. In Jason’s process, he plays the song once for the band on acoustic guitar while the band members make notes and write charts for themselves. Then they press ‘record’ and start playing together, trying to capture that first-take magic forever.”
For Jones, who is best known for the similarly no-holds-barred 2002 Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, “watching the band record ‘St. Peter’s Autograph’ shows just how unique their chemistry is, and how sacred a space the studio can be. With the added context of what was going on in Jason’s marriage, this moment really reveals Jason’s uniqueness as an artist.”
As previously reported, Isbell will release his next album, Weathervanes, on June 9. He has tour dates booked through early August, including a May 3-4 stand at Red Rocks outside Denver in tandem with Angel Olsen.