I've been mesmerised by Hayden Pedigo and the atmospheres created by his musicianship since first hearing Greetings from Amarillo. This is an exquisite record, sensational and transcendent. From my heart, thank you
Favorite track: Then It's Gone.
As to be expected, another brilliant example of Pedigo taking little more than an acoustic guitar and conjuring up something as personally distinct as it is atmospheric
Favorite track: Elsewhere.
Steph Selby 💫
Hayden is an important figure in the music scene. His creativity is not held back, and he is unapologetic with who he is and wants to be. His humor he shares with the public always makes me feel whole :) From what I have gathered, he makes his listeners feel safe and unjudged. I adore this just as much as I adore his music. Fahey would be proud, I would presume.
While Hayden contends on his Instagram that it's his "most British sounding" song, I would put forth that
'Signal Of Hope' is a humble American Epic- in a least humble American epoch.
Favorite track: Signal of Hope.
“Hayden Pedigo's new record is the cure; a warm, meditative salve which will wash over you and heal all wounds." - Tim Heidecker
“We’re lucky that Hayden Pedigo stumbled upon the footsteps of John Fahey and followed them into the deep wordless wood. I cannot wait to hear all that he discovers there.” - Gillian Welch
“Hayden Pedigo's acoustic guitar sound is intimate and authentic – it's rooted in tradition but fresh as tomorrow.” - Dr. Demento
So run the reels of The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored, Pedigo’s sixth studio album (and second for Mexican Summer) in the cinema of your ear; its script written in steel-string, its starring director a 28-year-old performance artist, politician, model, and fingerstyling maestro whose talent is as irrepressible as it is undeniable.
Pedigo has lived many lives, having been homeschooled in Amarillo, Texas by his truck-stop preacher father; run for Amarillo City Council in 2019, aged 25—as documented by Jasmine Stodel’s SXSW-premiering, PBS-acquired film Kid Candidate—and struck up pen-friendships and collaborative partnerships with the likes of Terry Allen, Charles Hayward (This Heat), Werner “Zappi” Diermaier (Faust), and Tim Heidecker. A move south from Amarillo to Lubbock in 2020 put a spark to the powder keg of his creativity. “It’s even more flat, desolate, windy and dirty – like being on Mars,” Pedigo observes. “It’s pushed me to create more because there’s not really much to distract.” The move produced not only The Happiest Times and its predecessor Letting Go, but also an Internet presence that showcases a panoply of ever-more outlandish outfits and an effortless deadpan wit. Both the former and the latter helped parlay him into the fashion world, too, having walked the runway for Gucci and been photographed by Hedi Slimane.
Inspired by the tragicomedic legacy of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney (in whose notes the line ‘These last few days are amongst the happiest I’ve ever ignored’ was found following his mysterious and untimely death), Pedigo embarked upon The Happiest Times with a no-shit aim: to create “the best instrumental acoustic guitar album of the past twenty years.” Though canonical works of comedy and music show their influence—the mournful beauty of Nick Drake, the puckish abandon of John Fahey—Pedigo by no means places their creators on pedestals; if anything pulling them from their plinths, smashing the alabasters, pocketing some pieces, gluing others back together upside down, or leaving them floating free.
How might Fahey have played in a Midwest emo band? Pedigo posits on “Nearer, Nearer,” while the specters of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn float somewhere above “Signal of Hope” – “the most British-sounding thing I’ve ever written;” an echo in an empty church. Pedigo flits through the cycle of songs, coiling and uncoiling like the mechanism of a clockwork bird on “When It’s Clear;” rambling, a tiny speck in the landscape, on “Elsewhere.” “Then It’s Gone” stands as stark as a leafless tree, guitar spilling a somber tale in its truest voice – and nowhere more than on the title track is Pedigo’s playing more affecting: regret and optimism balanced on intimate, intricate arrangement, as carefully poised as raindrops on guitar strings.
Citing a “rigid relationship with guitar” in which he has only slices of time to adequately express himself (“I have a five minute window to do something meaningful, and if it doesn’t come within five minutes, then it goes back in the case”), Pedigo wrote each song separately, start to finish, one by one. When an album’s worth of songs had been written, he undertook an intense regime of rehearsal, playing and replaying The Happiest Times on a loop, testing his technical ability, always striving for tighter, purer and more concise iterations.
In June 2022, Pedigo transported the limbered-up record to Pulp Arts in Gainesville, Florida, where the relentless practice paid off: he played the core acoustic compositions in track order, beginning to end, and by the evening of the first day, realized he’d essentially nailed the record in one go. After tracking the main narrative of the guitar, a studio team of producer Trayer Tryon (Hundred Waters, Moses Sumney) on synths and bass, Luke Schneider (Margo Price, Orville Peck) on pedal steel, and Robert Edmondson on electric bass and piano painted in a sunset of sound behind the acoustic parts, lighting them with a warm glow while allowing them to remain front and center of the scene.
If the rolling strings of Letting Go planted and germinated the seeds, then The Happiest Times sees Hayden grow the flowers, admire their ruffles, and take newly sharpened scissors to the stems; turmoil and perfectionism and the gods of chaos driving the hand that holds the shears. “I want to create something very melodic, and then put it behind a barbed wire fence,” Hayden reflects. “If you’re gonna get this pretty thing, then you might get cut up trying to get to it.”
Pedigo’s particular brand of barb comes in a variety of shapes: the carousel of internet personas that prod and jest (one day a 1970s car salesman, the next perhaps a Burger King attendant or gogo-booted knight); beautiful yet uneasy technicolor album artworks that place him incongruously corpse-painted at a gas station or glowing in ultraviolet on the parking lot of a flaming Walmart; or, in the music itself, pauses which verge on the uncomfortably long while the well-mannered audience member shuffles in their seat, trying to work out whether to clap yet or not.
At their most profound, Pedigo’s spacious, pristine soundscapes communicate an essential truth about the pursuit of artistic perfection. Creating The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored was, he surmises, a process akin to “the dog chasing the mail truck – what do you do when you catch it?”
released June 30, 2023
All songs written by Hayden Pedigo with arrangements by Trayer Tryon
Recorded at Pulp Arts (Gainesville, Florida), June 2022
Produced and mixed by Trayer Tryon
Engineered by Davis Hart and Danny Clifton
Additional mixing by Davis Hart
Mastered by Stephan Mathieu at Schwebung Mastering (Bonn, Germany)
Forest Juziuk did various things
Hayden Pedigo - 6 string acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Trayer Tryon - synthesizer, electric bass, piano
Luke Schneider - pedal steel
Robert Edmondson - electric bass, piano
All songs published by Ramada Trail Publishing (ASCAP)
Album cover painting by Jonathan Phillips
Back cover photo by Abigail Clark
Layout by Alex Tults
A very special thanks to my wife L’Hannah Pedigo, Trayer Tryon, Forest Juziuk, Keith and the entire team at Mexican Summer, the fantastic team at Pulp Arts who truly made this record happen, Jonathan Phillips, Luke Schneider, Robert Edmondson, Opus Acoustic Guitars, and everyone else who helped make this album come to life.
Hayden Pedigo is an acoustic guitarist and soundscape composer from Amarillo, Texas. Hayden spent his teen years
woodshedding the American primitive guitar picking styles of John Fahey combined with experimental sound manipulation and by his early 20s he had already collaborated with luminaries such as Charles Hayward of This Heat, Fred Frith, Werner Diermaier of Faust and Terry Allen....more
supported by 70 fans who also own “The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored”
I’m so grateful this crossed my path. This album is so beautiful. All the clear technique and mastery and vision are kinda secondary to the fact that this album brought me calm and joy during one of the most difficult times in my life. Yeah, grateful. David McCullough