Devendra Banhart on the song that changed his life

24th November 2023

Singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart tells us about a beautiful, cinematic, heartbreaking song performed by the legendary Venezuelan singer Simón Díaz. He talks about the songs impact on him as a writer, performer, and a Venezuelan-American.

Episode notes

(Photo: Dana Trippe)

The song that changed my life is a segment we do with musicians to tell us about the songs that made them who they are. This time around, we’re joined by Devendra Banhart.

Banhart’s a singer-songwriter. He grew up living in both the US and Venezuela. He started cutting albums in the early 2000s. Back then, Banhart’s recordings were simple. They usually contained a classical guitar, one mic and his voice: warbling and almost ancient.

Early albums of his like Niño Rojo and Rejoice in The Hand were hits – beloved by critics and college students everywhere. Writers lumped Banhart’s music alongside acts like Animal Collective and Joanna Newsom – a genre known as “freak folk.”

But Banhart’s discography is hard to pin down. He’s recorded ambient music, 60s fuzz rock, 80s new wave, and tropicália. And sometimes he’d incorporate these sounds all on the same song.

Banhart released a new album earlier this year. It’s called Flying Wig and it’s out now.

When we asked Banhart about the song that changed his life, he took us back to his childhood in Venezuela. He picked a song from one of the country’s greats: Simón Díaz.

In this episode...

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Guests

  • Devendra Barnhart

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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