John Craigie
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John Craigie Headlines KPIG Valentine’s Day Show

UCSC grad says writing a good love song isn’t easy

John Craigie, who plays the Rio on Tuesday, Feb, 14, says that modern dating’s infinite options have shaken up the world of relationships.

Singer/songwriter John Craigie has advice for anyone going through a bad breakup: get the heck out of town, for as long as you can—or at least a few days.

“One thing that’s lucky about the traveler is you get to move on—physically move. Other people aren’t as lucky to have that,” says Craigie, who plays the Valentine’s Day show at the Rio Theatre on Feb. 14, which also features performances by Sherry Austin and Sugar by the Pound. Craigie is touring in support of a brand-new album, No Rain, No Rose. “Whenever I have a breakup, I feel bad for the people who have to stay in that town,” he says.

Still, he concedes that there are people out there who like being friends with their exes: “And those people are called insane.”

No offense, but I wouldn’t take you for a Valentine’s Day show kinda guy.

JOHN CRAIGIE: I wouldn’t think so, either. I guess they figured I didn’t have a date.

You tour constantly, and for years didn’t even have a home where you paid rent. What’s love like on the road?

Love is tough. You make pretty brief connections with people. And then if you make a longer, deeper connection, you have to try to maintain that as you travel on. What’s cool about new romance, as a traveler, is that if you’re smart, you won’t get tied down to something bad. That will ideally make you choose wisely. One of the weird things about our generation is that it’s so hard for us to make a decision on something because we have so many options. With our grandparents, we look back and say, “Wow, it’s so crazy to marry someone after two dates.” But they knew they were only going to meet, like, six people in their whole life. With our generation, we got so many options, it’s hard for us to tie ourselves down.

I know. These days, especially with dating apps, we’re always questioning what we have or trying to upgrade.

Yeah, I did my thesis on infinity at UCSC [in the math department]. When you choose one thing, you turn your back on an infinite number of other things. But that’s easier to do, based on your access to the infinite. So our grandparents—their infinity was very small in the window of what was possible for them. But ours is very big now. It’s harder for us to turn around and put that infinity behind us and make one decision—on not just relationships, but on everything. But with relationships, it’s more significant because it’s a much more long-term thing.

Some of your songs could be thought of as unique love songs—“Pictures on My Phone,” “Naked Skype” and “Let’s Talk This Over When We’re Sober (And Not at Burning Man).” Do you think of them that way?

No, not really. My talent does not lie in love songs. It lies in relationship songs. All three of those songs are observational about how modern romance is done. When I think of a good love song, I think of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or some Beatles song—[singing] “Who knows how long I’ve loved you?” I’m not so good at those, mostly because if I am in love, whenever that happens, I feel like that’s private and no one wants to hear about it. People like love songs. But they also just make me sick.

In our funny English language, we have a word, love, that encompasses so many connotations—I love my mom, I love my friends, I love my girlfriend, my girlfriend loves chocolate. What do you make of all that?

It’s a pretty lazy-ass way of talking.


John Craigie plays the Rio with Sherry Austin and Henhouse and Sugar By the Pound at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. Tickets are $25-$40.

News Editor at |

Jacob, the news editor at Good Times, won the 2014 award for best local government coverage from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. A longtime basketball and football fanatic, Jacob has evolved into a shameless fair weather fan and band wagoner for hot West Coast sports teams. He also enjoys arguing with others about where to find the best burrito in town.

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