Heartbreak sucks. Being exiled to a hotel room during a brief separation from your wife sucks even more, and that is what God’s Favorite Customer is here to chat about.
As you’d expect with any breakup album, opening track, “Hangout at the Gallows”, is a melancholy tribute to being shattered from losing a significant other. At first glance, the lyrics don’t make sense; however, was this no accident? Father John Misty’s cryptic lyrics are here to confuse us — helping listeners grasp his bewilderment. Confusion quickly turns into a manic diatribe as “Mr. Tillman” unravels in his hotel room (an allusion to himself, as his real name is Joshua Tillman). Things get concerning in “Mr. Tillman” as the diminished chord progression is accompanied by Father John Misty claiming to be “living on a cloud above an island in [his] mind.”
Concerns come to a front in his literal plea against ending it all in “Please Don’t Die”. The 1970s style of Misty’s balladry is a cross-breed between Elton John and Bob Dylan, revealing the singer’s woes of losing his wife. Meanwhile, in the confessional “The Palace”, though it has only been three weeks (“and a bag of speed from Jaime the PhD”) Father John Misty concludes he is in over his head, and ready to come home — finally. Pitiful in a way, it’s Misty’s time to stop sulking and get back with his wife before his listeners throw a fit.
Unfortunately, the sulking continues in title-track “God’s Favorite Customer”. At this point, as Misty begs for his “sweet angel” to speak to him, listeners are most likely rolling their eyes and groaning — just get back with her already! The melodramatic show continues with a deeper message in “The Songwriter”. Reflective and hypothetical, Misty speaks to his wife, asking if she were the songwriter, would she deliver the truth of their life together, or would she exaggerate the circumstances to make it more desirable to the public? Guilt is expressed for Misty’s wife as he “undress[ed] [her] repeatedly in public,” exposing their intimate life, leaving no room for privacy. Perhaps this was the basis of their separation?
Father John Misty concludes, “We’re Only People”, and leaves it at that. Blunt and truthful, the conclusion of God’s Favorite Customer did “look a lot like the beginning” — a cocktail of hotel rooms, drugs, and yes, still heartbreak.