Owl City's Adam Young: An Ambrose Bierce story inspired my name

The origin of Owatonna synth-pop artist Owl City's cute-on-the-surface moniker turns out to have some dead-serious literary implications. In a blog posting titled "Why I Call Myself Owl City," the reclusive Adam Young describes what is "not the kind of answer I can explain in thirty seconds during a loud meet-and-greet while the opener is soundchecking in the same room two people are trying to converse in." He goes on to say that even half an hour in a quiet coffee shop might not be enough to fully explain it. Whether or not this is true, we can bet that Ambrose Bierce is gonna get a lot of Kindle downloads this week.

Following a brief book report about anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer earlier this month, Young clearly is doing his best to contrast his glistening sci-fi sound and lyrics with commentary more grounded in grim reality.

During a brief stint at Riverland Community College in his hometown, Young says he was assigned to read Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." The story was originally published in 1890, and tells the Civil War tale of Peyton Farquhar, a man condemned to hang from the bridge after being pegged as a Confederate Army supporter. In 1962, this was adapted as a short French film, La Rivière du hibou, directed by Robert Enrico.

It wasn't until later that I discovered the 1962 French film adaptation that ended up changing my general outlook, my frame of mind, my point of perspective, and my entire life from that moment on. It was a hammer between the eyes and I remember driving my white beat-up 92′ Caravan to work at Coke with tears in my eyes because of the ironic and obvious spiritual comparisons between my life and the impact of the story.

Read it for yourself or watch the film if you wish to draw your own conclusions. I find both totally inspiring and incredibly powerful. The film is one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema I've ever seen.

Without spoiling too many details from the story, let's just say that Young feels that he can relate to the Farquhar character because "all I have left is a little bit of time." Here's the 23-minute film:

Read Young's entire posting here.

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