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EP Premiere: "Big Two Hearted River Pt II" by P.J.M. Bond

19 July 2023

The Dutch singer-songwriter P.J.M. Bond is releasing the “Big Two-Hearted River: Part II” single as part of the three-song EP release to coincide with Ernest Hemingway’s birthday on July 21. Melancholy guitars and Hammond organs, blues harp, and upbeat percussion echo the world created by Ernest Hemingway in his short story from 1925. The songs on the EP are off the upcoming album, “In Our Time” due out October 6.

For this unprecedented and unique project, Bond put to music all 17 stories from Hemingway’s short-story collection “In Our Time.” The marriage between literature and music is most potent in this new single, which seeks to translate the medium of literature to the art of music. Both story and song explore the meditational solitude the human soul finds in nature, and for the song, Bond craftily applied the sounds of acoustic guitars and keys to echo the mood of Hemingway’s prose.

“Big Two-Hearted River” is often considered to be the quintessential Hemingway masterpiece, the American author at the height of his powers. In the two-part story, Nick Adams leaves the chaos of society behind him and travels into the woods for some much-needed rest. Nature is the great equalizer in these stories, and Adams regains a bit of control over his life by imposing a structure on his activities in the Michigan forests: fishing, building a tent, baking flapjacks on a smoking skillet, and making an onion sandwich. The story still endures a century later due to Hemingway’s acute observation of the human soul and his intense and honest descriptions of the landscape.

Bond says, “I have had a fascination with literature for as long as I can remember, and have been aspiring to be a full-time musician since my first diaper. After obtaining my MA degree in American Literature, I dreamed of putting a literary work to music, and I finally received an epiphany after rereading one of my favourite works by Ernest Hemingway: “In Our Time” (1925). The seventeen short stories of this collection just begged to be put to song. In the case of these three songs — which together create the “Big Two-Hearted River” EP — putting Hemingway’s prose to the art of music was particularly challenging, because “Big Two-Hearted River” and “Indian Camp” are arguably his most famous and lasting stories. The musical arrangement is intended to reflect their philosophical setting and literary atmosphere: subdued string arrangements, fingerpicked acoustic guitars and lush piano parts, accompanied by my vocals, recorded a la Iron & Wine, i.e. close mic’ed and ringing urgently in your ear. Hopefully, my music somehow reflects the legacy of Hemingway’s work.”

“Big Two-Hearted River: Part II” Track Listing
1. Big Two-Hearted River: Part II
2. Indian Camp
3. Mr. and Mrs. Elliot

P.J.M. Bond earned his spurs with his band Dandelion, with whom he released several singles and EPs, and two full-length albums: “Everest” (2016) and “Laika, Belka, Strelka” (2019). In addition, Bond is an oft-asked session pianist for many Dutch bands, including VanWyck, Judy Blank, and AlascA. In 2021 Bond received international attention for his debut solo EP titled “Sunset Blues” (via Concerto Records). Americana UK called it “guitar and vocal folk perfection,” and Country blog Holler insisted that “Bond has crafted an understated masterpiece.”

P.J.M. Bond · Big Two-Hearted River EP