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First Person

The Experience Questionnaire: Pete Yorn

Pete Yorn is a singer-songwriter who — among many successful albums — released an LP with Scarlett Johansson in 2009 and an EP with her in 2018. His album “Caretakers” was released in 2019. Follow him here.

Where do you come up with your best ideas?  
Ideas can come from anywhere at any time. Often they come when I’m playing or listening to music.  

What is the best non-material gift you’ve received?
Probably my ability to appreciate and interact with music in the way that I do.  

What is the best non-material gift you’ve given? 
Being the change I want to see in the world.  

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Myself. Learning how to get out of my own way.  

If you had to choose a different profession, what would you do? 

“I see myself as a stranger who knows nothing about me or how I feel. I lose my story and just be.”

What is the most useful mistake you’ve made?  
There are no mistakes.  

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had? 
I’ve had a few. One that comes to mind was sitting on a couch between Johnny Ramone and Steve Jones and being asked whose band was better: The Ramones or The Sex Pistols?  

What opportunity do you regret passing up? 
No time for regrets. 

How do you relax? 
Hyper-present moment awareness seems to do the trick.  

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go? 

​What is your most indelible childhood memory? 
There was a recurring dream I had when I was very young, maybe 5 or 6: There was a small red demon that lived below my bed in the corner, near the wall; it would beckon to me and try and tempt me with something that was called a cocaine bottle. (I assume there was cocaine in it.) All I know was it scared me straight. To this day, I have avoided that drug like the plague. Another memory is having a lot of fun with my brothers.  

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in school? 
Mostly life experience and how to interact with people. Learning how to read and write have proven to be quite valuable as well.  

When you’re stuck how do you get unstuck? 
I see myself as a stranger who knows nothing about me or how I feel. I lose my story and just be. 

What is your proudest moment? 
August 25, 2015: The day Ellington Bee, my daughter, was born. I was so proud to be her dad and was so in awe of how strong my wife is. In an instant, I had this new addition to my identity, “Bee’s dad,” and it filled me with pride and a sense of responsibility that made me want to rise to the occasion. That moment is still boosting me almost four years later.  

What would you like to experience before you die?  
I guess to just be at peace with it all.  

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Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

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