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First Watch: Kishi Bashi, 'Can't Let Go, Juno'

Cab drivers have a special window into the twisted affairs of humanity, bearing witness to the full spectrum of joy and pain through the tiny frame of a rearview mirror. This cramped stage is the perfect setting for Kishi Bashi's "Can't Let Go, Juno" video, a song about heartache and the lengths one goes to spare someone else's feelings.

Kishi Bashi sits impassively behind the wheel, ferrying a rotating cast of characters around the city — a bickering couple, drunk drag queens, a jilted bride. At some point, a couple of gun-toting thieves, fleeing a crime scene in ski masks, jump in his car — and still Kishi Bashi stares, unjudging. The video makes good use of the conceit, referencing (at least) Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, HBO's Taxicab Confessions and The Night Of. Eventually our driver finds his only moment of comfort in a mother who lovingly embraces her sleeping daughter. "It's a new day," sings Kishi Bashi. "Another full of heartbreak. And every time I'm checking in with myself I'm drinking my soul away."

"Can't Let Go, Juno" is from Kishi Bashi's latest album, Sonderlust, a name derived from the invented word "sonder," created to encapsulate an awareness that everyone around you is living a life as complex and meaningful as your own.

"The video ties in with the definition of 'sonderlust,'" says Kishi Bashi in an email to NPR Music. "It's the idea that while my character is detached in his own universe, the various and dynamic lives of complete strangers are colliding, sometimes literally, into my world, screaming for a connection that I cannot give. The slight emotional transformation at the end affords him hope and optimism as he is reminded of his own humanity and his connection to it."

This is the third video from Kishi Bashi's Sonderlust. He previously released ones for "Say Yeah," and "Hey Big Star."

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Robin Hilton
Robin Hilton is the Senior Podcast Producer for NPR Music and hosts the New Music Friday episodes of All Songs Considered. He is also a composer and multi-instrumentalist whose original scores have appeared in podcasts, films, radio programs and other works. He arranged and performed the theme for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and composed and performed its elections coverage theme. You can hear more of his music here.