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Phoebe Bridgers announces death of her father

Their difficult relationship inspired the hit single 'Kyoto'

By Joe Goggins

Phoebe Bridgers onstage in Redmond, WA, August 2022
Bridgers chronicled her relationship with her father on 'Kyoto'. (Photo: David Lee/Wikimedia Commons)

Phoebe Bridgers announced the passing of her father in an Instagram post yesterday (January 3).

The singer-songwriter posted a photo of the pair sharing a pair of earphones, along with the simple caption “rest in peace dad.” No additional details on the cause of death were forthcoming. She was known to have a complicated relationship with her father, who had previously worked as a carpenter on film and television sets in Los Angeles. Her hit single ‘Kyoto’, from 2020’s Punisher, referenced the estrangement. 

“You called me from a payphone / They still got payphones / It cost a dollar a minute / To tell me you’re getting sober / And you wrote me a letter / But I don’t have to read it,” she sings in an apparent address to her father, before continuing: “I don’t forgive you / But please don’t hold me to it / Born under Scorpio skies / I wanted to see the world / Through your eyes until it happened.”

In an interview with GQ in 2020, Bridgers referenced him having a “drug thing” and as having a history of abuse, something she’d previously touched upon on the song ‘Would You Rather’, a duet with Conor Oberst from her debut album, 2017’s Stranger in the Alps. More recently, during an appearance on ‘Chicken Shop Date’ last month, host Amelia Dimoldenberg asked Bridgers whether she still wanted to kill her dad, in a nod to the line “I’m gonna kill you / if you don’t beat me to it,” from ‘Kyoto’. “No,” she replied, after a pause, suggesting a recent thaw in relations.

She had told The Line of Best Fit in December 2020 that she began talking to her father again during the COVID-19 lockdowns of that year, saying, “it’s strange, but it’s been really nice.” She added that whilst she hadn’t discussed the sentiments expressed on ‘Kyoto’ with him, he had said that he’d “like to take some responsibility” after the track scored her two Grammy nominations in 2021, for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. Talking to NPR the same month, she described her relationship with her dad as “a very weird combination of emotionally unavailable, but very present in a weird way.”