Thursday, June 6, 2019

Premiere: Rick Barry, A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage

A Day Early

Today, it's my great honor to share with you the premiere of the latest album from award-winning Asbury Park singer / songwriter Rick Barry. CoolDad Music premiered single "The Ardor of Bloom" back in late 2017, and our wait for the final collection is finally over. A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage is the follow-up to Barry's acclaimed Curses, Maledictions, and Harsh Reiterations. It officially hits all digital platforms tomorrow, but Rick was kind enough to let everyone have listen a day early.

Yours truly went to grad school for economics, and the fallacy of sunk costs is a frustrating concept. People are supposed to behave rationally by weighing the costs and benefits of any decision; but they often allow past, unrecoverable investments to factor in, which, in academic economics, doesn't really make sense. So I asked Rick:

The title A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage references this idea of weighing the (sunk) costs and benefits of sticking things out when, for example, "It has never been more obvious that this world is growing tired of us." But on songs like "No Such Luck (Surprise, Surprise)" or "My Heart Is Your Apple," there's this sense of not being able to resist even though you know things aren't going to go well. So what's the relationship among sunk costs, enduring mirages that things will get better, and irresistible forces that makes the people you write about behave so frustratingly irrationally?

Rick Barry: I think the idea of sunk costs, as pertaining to human beings' emotional investments, could be considered a general theme throughout my catalog going back 15 years. Maybe it surfaced a bit more this time around because, after 15 years of putting out records and trying to sell yourself, you start to wonder if your music "career" itself is a sunk cost endeavor. I don't really feel that way, but if you look at it from an economic standpoint, were I to judge my level of success in the music business by financial returns, there would be no argument that I have failed thus far and, most likely, henceforth. 

"We have a right to our labor, but not the fruits of our labor." I read that somewhere recently. It's some Hare Krishna shit, but I like it. If you think about it that way, then you'd better love your work, because the work itself is all that's guaranteed. 

I guess it's a struggle to apply a mentality like that to the things that are important to you in life. I know I struggle with it; and, evidently, it comes through in my work. 

The most tragic "characters" in these songs are the ones who don't find a way to move on, the person in "No Such Luck" isn't asking a question when they say, "What would life be like if the other wasn't there?" They are making a statement. They are saying, "I don't know what the alternative is, and I am too fucking scared to find out." I don't know. At the end of the day, I'm not some fiction writer. All these "characters" are some part of me. Some, hopefully, lesser part, that is weak and afraid or deluded and misguided. Making those parts of me narrate a song is really the easiest way to look in the mirror in judgement and say, "Don't be that person."

That level of candor and honesty is present throughout the new record, and an all-star cast of musicians helped Barry to realize his vision. "I'm really excited about this new album," Barry said. "I feel like it completely captures how a particular group of players, at a particular time in my life, were able to inspire and influence the direction of these tunes in a way that is unique to anything I have put out before."

OK. Enough words. That's not why you came here. You can check out A Sunk Cost Fallacy and the Enduring Mirage a day early below. The album releases to all digital platforms tomorrow, and you can order it over at Rick Barry's Bandcamp page.

Rick celebrates the release of the album with a show at The Saint on Saturday, June 8th. Joining Rick's band on the bill will be Tara Dente and The Blind Pilots, Lou Montesano, Warsh Rag (ft. Avery Mandeville and Noah Rauchwerk), and American Casino.

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