Radnor and Lee: A Beautiful Bro-Mance

Actor/writer/director Josh Radnor and singer-songwriter Ben Lee were friends for a decade before they decided to make music together.

About Josh Radnor

Josh Radnor is an American actor and singer. He is best known for portraying Ted Mosby on the popular Emmy Award-winning CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. He made his writing and directorial debut with the 2010 comedy-drama film Happythankyoumoreplease, for which he won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

In 2012, he wrote, directed and starred in his second film, Liberal Arts, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. In 2014, Radnor portrayed Isaac in the Broadway play Disgraced, which earned a Tony Award for Best Play nomination. He then starred as Dr. Jedediah Foster on the PBS American Civil War drama series Mercy Street. He starred in the musical series Rise.

(from Wikipedia)

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About Ben Lee

is an Australian musician and actor. Lee began his career as a musician at the age of 14 with the Sydney band Noise Addict, but focused on his solo career when the band broke up in 1995. He appeared as the protagonist in the Australian film The Rage in Placid Lake (2003). He has released eleven solo studio albums.

(from Wikipedia)

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(‘Wider Spaces’ by Radnor & Lee)

Be ready heart
For new endeavors
Oh youth
It won't last forever

Saying yes to the new is a virtue, yet fear of the unknown can often be cause for procrastination. Not so for writer, director, actor, and recently musician, Josh Radnor.

Josh Radnor: After being on a hit television show for nine years, there's no one in the world that would say, you know what you're next move should be? You should form an Indie band with Ben Lee and make some beautiful, spiritually-based folk music. Like there's no one who would say that. That is an absolute weird move to make, but for me, from like whatever GPS is guiding me, that's 100% the right move.

Radnor met the Australian singer-songwriter, Ben Lee, a full decade before they decided to work together in 2015. The music of their partnership, says Lee, is driven by the same kind of deep, existential questing that fuels their friendship.

Ben Lee: Collaboration is two people checking each other out and going, we've kind of got a similar mission, we could be strong together. There's like an alliance, an allegiance, and so what I'm always looking for with collaborators is people that are as concerned with consciousness and proliferating consciousness through their work.

(‘Be Like The Being’ by Radnor & Lee)

Be like the being
Free like the being
Being like the being 'cause the reason
For the being is to be like the being
Free like the being
Being like the being 'cause the reason
For the being is to be

Radnor: It's interesting to be such good friends with someone and a collaborator with them and also be a fan of theirs, it's really fun. The older I'm getting, there's something nice about male friendships. I didn't have brothers, I have two sisters. I really value my male friends to kind of check in along the way and go like, you feeling any of this, like how are we supposed to do this?

(‘Doorstep’ by Radnor & Lee)

Told me I was looking for you
Now we're standing at the doorstep
Of True

Lee: Male friendships are kind of a bit of a sticky subject in a way because masculinity is so sticky in our culture. It's kind of hard to, most of us didn't see our dads and go like oh, wow, I really saw a great model for how to have intimate, creative, male friendships, you know? This is sort of new territory. So Josh and I had a moment where we were harmonizing on stage and we had this very tender moment at the end of a song and we were doing ‘ooohhs’. We were harmonizing and a woman started laughing, but it wasn't mean-spirited.

AJC: Uncomfortable?

Lee: I'm not sure if it was even uncomfortable, it was just new. It was funny to her, and I said, I made a joke, I said, "Is it so funny just seeing two bros just singing some ohs in harmony together," and she said, "Yes," and we all laughed, and it was great, but what I realized is that like honoring that this is a journey that two friends are on together where we're not afraid to ask big questions to each other and to the audience and in song, there's a vulnerability in that that I think is resonating with the audience.

Radnor and Lee's eponymous 2017 debut album was released on the same day as Taylor Swift's chart-topping Reputation. Far from discouraging the duo, Radnor says the contrast with Swift's massive commercial success only made them more earnest about their own humble endeavor.

Radnor: I have no idea how many people are listening to the Radnor and Lee record right now. We're hearing really nice things from people all over, but it's out there, and it's doing its work, and it's gonna be out there forever. So I don't know when people are gonna find it, at what moment they're gonna need it, at what dark night the song “All Shall Be Well” will come to them and give them some hope or faith in a really trying time. I don't know if someone's gonna use it in a movie, one of those songs and then it will explode. I have no idea which way this stuff goes.

Lee: The biggest ambition is truly like to touch the human heart. There is something that happens to an audience and to a performer when there's the experience of genuinely seeing each other, and I think our songs. It's not music just to put on and go out to the club and party to. It's songs to connect heart to heart and in that moment when a audience and a performer are in their heart and connecting and sharing values, suddenly anything's possible, and that's what we want with our audience.

(‘Wider Spaces’ by Radnor & Lee)

The great unknown
Seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage
To wider spaces

For the full experience, watch the video at the top of the page.