The World Premiere of Widespread Panic’s “Saint Ex”

May 4, 2010

Today is proud to offer up the premiere of the first track from the new Widespread Panic release, Dirty Side Down.

The group’s John Bell has shared some of his thoughts on the song, which can be found right here on our audio player.

Here is what JB has to say about the origins of “Saint Ex”: My wife Laura and I are great fans of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupery. It’s thought of as a children’s book but conveys some pretty heavy messages on many levels. A couple of years ago, my father sent me a New York Times article about an eighty-five year old German WWII pilot who realized he was the guy that shot down Saint Ex (a French pilot) in 1944. The plane Saint Ex was flying had been identified in 2004, ending the sixty year old mystery surrounding the author’s disappearance. Both pilots were on simple reconnaissance missions, and it was kind of a fluke that they happened upon each other. What I found intriguing about the situation is that the German pilot said Saint Ex was one of his favorite authors, and claimed if he was aware of who was flying the French aircraft, he wouldn’t have opened fire. I began reading more of Saint Uxupery’s works, and even though they’re translations, his insights about “Life During Wartime” are really profound and heartfelt – simultaneously caring about all humanity, while feeling compelled to fight for his country. Anyway, that’s what the song is about. One side note: Laura had always said “The Little Prince” story would be a good subject for a song…and it only took twenty years for the Band to put it together.

When asked what, if anything surprised him about the recording of “Saint Ex,” he responded, "I don’t know if anything surprised me during the recording of “Saint Ex” but I was very grateful to the different musical ideas Jimmy shared one day while we were on the road. They were originally stand alone ideas – but when we brought them together for one song, the imagery for the lyrical aspect became more vivid. To me, the music and words conveyed the same feeling – like they were meant for each other, even though they came from different inspirations."

As for the mood of “Saint Ex,” Bell adds, “I’ll tell you what the mood conveys to me but that doesn’t make it the only interpretation available. The tone of the music within the intro is fairly etheric…floating – maybe helping to describe what it’s like to be flying through and above the clouds – peaceful, maybe solitary. The outro is the same piece of music. At this point however, oops – Saint Ex is dead. So, now the mood is still hopefully peaceful, lofty, perhaps Heaven-like – without the aid of an aircraft. Other people tell me they just see bunnies.”

Again, head over to our audio page, to hear “Saint Ex.”

For a look at the Relix 2002 cover story on Widespread Panic, click here.

A recent interview interview with John Bell, can be found on our sister site,