Why You Should Be Obsessed With Joanna Newsom, Andy Samberg's Wife

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.
Andy Samberg, comedian and co-host of the upcoming Golden Globes, is arguably the most musical cast member of Saturday Night Live, current or former. His comedy trio, The Lonely Island, is known for creating viral music videos like “I’m on a Boat” and “I Just Had Sex.” Along with fellow members Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, Samberg raps about Jack Sparrow, threesomes, and lazy Sundays. For Samberg, music is a catchy and convenient medium for creating unforgettable jokes.
The opposite couldn’t be more true for Samberg’s wife of five years, musical genius Joanna Newsom. Newsom is a harpist, pianist, exquisite lyricist — and the center of a mighty fandom, of both the musical and fashion varieties.
Newsom calls her most devoted fans “delvers” for their habit of delving into her long songs (one upwards of 17 minutes) and extracting meaning from each line. Granted, there’s a lot to extract. The first single from her album Divers, “Sapokanikan,” references a painting by Titian, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias,” and an old mayor of New York. With lyrics like “Do you love me? / Will you remember?” The snow falls above me, “Sapokanikan” could almost sound like a song of heartbreak. Really, though, “Sapokanikan” is about the Lenape village that once stood on Manhattan — and some other heady stuff. When NPR asked Newsom for comment about the meaning of this single, she wrote, “Sapokanikan" is a ragtimey encomium to the forces of remembrance, forgetting, accretion, concealment, amendment, erasure, distortion, canonization, obsolescence, and immortality.”
Essentially, a person would need a graduate degree in Joanna Newsom to penetrate just this one song’s lyrics. So, it’s no surprise Newsom’s body of work is the subject of fervent scholarship — and Newsom the object of fascination. As a 2010 New York Times profile of Newsom put it, “There is no shortage of Joanna Newsom Theory. Newsom is among the most critically lionized American musicians to emerge in the past decade….To the members of her cult, Newsom inspires the kind of exegetical fervor that Bob Dylan did in 1966 — fandom on the high-rock album-era model, with devotees who pore over the runes of lyric sheets like Talmudists.”
Her fans stay busy in their devotion to Newsom. In 2010, a scholarly book called Visions of Joanna Newsom dissected the then 28-year-old Newsom’s opaque lyrics. Newsom’s later work has been close-read and analyzed in incredibly detailed Medium posts.
How does this pairing work?
It’s an understandable question. Look, other people’s relationships are fundamentally unknowable. We can’t know how Newsom and Samberg work — but we do know how they met. Before meeting Newsom, Samberg was essentially a delver himself. He had a huge crush on the harpist and would frequently go to her shows. Similarly, Newsom was a fan of Samberg’s Lonely Island creations. They were introduced through mutual friends, and were together for five years before getting married in 2013.
At this point, they’re prone to gushing about each other in the press. “He’s my favorite person in the world. He’s the person I’d most want to hang out with at any given moment,” Newsom told Larry King of Samberg in 2014.
Though back in 2010, when they were first spotted together, Newsom was more reticent to speak about her relationship. “I understand why it’s noteworthy,” Newsom said to the New York Times (the “it” likely being her relationship with Samberg). “It somehow impacts the overall picture in a way that nothing I was involved in before did. It changes the portrait somehow.”
In August 2017, they had a baby girl.
Wait till you see their house.
Newsom was born and raised in Nevada City, CA and never much felt like leaving. “I was the only person in my group of friends growing up who didn't feel a huge urge to leave. I didn’t want to leave — I wanted to go to college nearby so I could come home every weekend,” Newsom told the New York Times. “I never had that itch, that feeling, like, ‘There must be something more out there!’”
She described feelings of homesickness while she was dating Samberg and traveling back and forth to his home in New York. Newsom’s California roots won out. The couple resides in a moody old mansion in Los Angeles that looks like the setting of an Agatha Christie novel.
They may be the epitome of domestic bliss — but don’t expect a collaboration anytime soon.
Though both Newsom and Samberg have a shared love of music, they've decided not to make music together.
"We've talked about [collaborating]," Samberg told Glamor. "But we've decided ultimately that her fans would probably kill me in my sleep. What she does is so, like, actually beautiful and important."

More from Movies

R29 Original Series