At the beginning of her fourth album as St. Vincent, Annie Clark is running and sweating and naked and alone. Well, not completely alone. There's a coiled serpent closeby, shaking its tail - hence the running. "Rattlesnake" would be a perfect, panicked creation myth - a shock of metaphor and imagination - except for the fact that the song is based on utter reality.
While visiting a friend's remote cattle ranch in West Texas last year, Clark decided to step outside for a quiet walk to nowhere. There were no signs to mark her progress as she continued down a little dirt pathway, no cell phone service, nobody else around. Sensing a Walden Pond moment, she thought, "When am I ever going to be in nature like this? I want to release - I'm just going to take off my clothes." As she kept walking, her whole body exposed to the Texas sun, she noticed small holes on either side of the path. Then she heard something.
"I thought it was the wind blowing, but the wind wasn't blowing," she recalls. "I turned and I saw a snake and I just took off."