Roman Songs

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Roman Songs ep cover
Roman Songs
EP by John Linnell
First released July 2, 2021
Release details / collectors: Show | Hide
Tracks 4
Label Idlewild Recordings Length 10:29

Roman Songs is a 4-song solo EP by John Linnell, released on July 2, 2021.


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A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020, John Flansburgh suggested to John Linnell that the two create solo releases during lockdown, for the first time since the '90s. Flansburgh originally suggested that Linnell write and record a second volume of State Songs, but was pleased when Linnell came back with the idea to record an EP in Latin.

Roman Songs was first announced in August 2020 as part of the TMBG Instant Fan Club, alongside a forthcoming Mono Puff EP. Though details were scarce, it was established that Linnell would be singing in Latin, and that 2020 IFC Super Presidents and Crazy Presidents would receive an exclusive 10" vinyl EP of Roman Songs and the Mono Puff project.

On June 18, 2021, more details about the EP including its release date, a pre-order and a T-shirt were announced. A lyric music video for "HAEC QVOQVE EST RES" was uploaded to YouTube on June 23, 2021, a few weeks ahead of the EP's release, and was subsequently followed by videos for each song by illustrator David Plunkert.

Linnell described the EP on the TMBG Shop store:

I can hear some of you screaming, “why songs in Latin?” and I admit I’m scrambling for a cogent explanation. There isn’t one. All I can tell you is that I’m deeply jealous of people who are fluent in a second language and can apply that skill to their creative work in a way that doesn’t seem like cultural appropriation of the most offensive and embarrassing kind. I’m trying to stay in my lane so I don’t cause traffic accidents on the multicultural highway. In spite of this I perked up when I discovered the very short, easy Latin course being offered on the Duolingo website. After completing the course, I figured I could write a few songs in my newly adopted language. I was soon disabused of this notion. I can barely string two words together in Latin, and to borrow from Mark Twain, I would rather decline two drinks than one Latin noun.

Luckily my colleague and childhood friend Schoolmaster Smith came to my rescue, having spent his entire adult life studying and teaching Latin. He generously translated my English lyrics and instructed me on pronunciation. All credit for any success in this project is due to him and any mistakes and failures are entirely mine. My son Henry has been trapped indoors with me throughout the Covid pandemic, so he was forced to play all the guitar parts. Pat Dillett co-produced and is fervently hoping to win a Latin Grammy for this. Thanks are also due to Mr. Flansburgh who strongly encouraged this project and art directed the package. Looking forward to seeing everyone’s faces in person someday soon!

Track listing[edit]

# Title Length  Lyrics Guitar Tab
I Don't Want to Walk Around with You


Now or Never


This Is Also the Case


I Lost My Chains