Americana Highways is hosting this premiere of Jack Barksdale’s song “Trances” from his forthcoming album Death of a Hummingbird, due to be released on March 4. (The song will be available on January 21.) Death of a Hummingbird was produced by Mike Meadows, engineered by Dex Green, and mastered by John Baldwin.
“Trances” is Jack Barksdale on guitar and vocals; Mike Meadows on percussion; Jared Reynolds on bass; and Dex Green on electric piano. We had a chance to chat with Jack about this song and the album. The song premiere is just after the interview.
Americana Highways: What inspired you to write this song? Is there a story behind it?
Jack Barksdale: The first line of “Trances” stemmed from a National Geographic documentary about the Parker Solar Probe that NASA sent to the sun. The documentary talked extensively about the sun’s corona, which is the outer atmosphere of the sun. As soon as they started talking about that, I ran to my notebook and wrote down the first line of the song. Eventually “Trances” turned into this strange, psychedelic story about someone stuck in purgatory, witnessing a true reality, trying to share the reality that he’s found, but they’re invisible to everything and everyone.
AH: Most of the songs on the forthcoming album were co-writes. What made you finish this song by yourself instead of working with someone else on it?
JB: The ideas and beginning lines of most of my co-writes were written specifically for that co-writing session. That’s not always the case, but that’s usually what happens. So when I come up with a line that’s a little bit off, like — I’m flying through the corona / My skin melts away like candle wax — I’ll usually keep it for myself. Though sometimes I just get greedy and keep all my favorite ideas.
AH: Tell us about recording the song. What was it like in the studio? Any great stories from that session?
JB: I had a great time recording “Trances.” I loved watching Mike Meadows (the album’s producer and percussionist) reach into his bag of tricks and pull out bells and brooms and all the crazy contraptions that he’s made.
AH: Did the song turn out differently than you expected it to?
JB: When I started writing this song, I knew it would turn out to be a weird one. It’s often hard to capture complex concepts in songs, and if you do, then it tends to get washed out when it’s recorded, but I think both the recording and the song itself turned out better than I ever thought they would.
AH: This song has a psychedelic vibe to it on top of the Americana/folk base. What made you want to go in that direction for this song?
JB: When I finished “Trances” after about a month of writing and editing it, I played it for someone, and they said it reminded them of an acid trip. I hadn’t thought of it in that way before, but it really is a pretty psychedelic song. Mike Meadows and Dex Green did a fantastic job of giving the music a trippy, psychedelic element.
Thank you Jack. This song taps into something ageless, between the lyrics, the thoughtful arrangement, and Barksdale’s vocals that seem to float on the wind. “You never get used to this kind of thing… our existence has never been so righteous… ego crashes into melody.” Anyone who already knows Jack Barksdale will deepen their appreciation of the path this young man is on, and anyone who hasn’t yet heard of him will be happily surprised at this project.
Pre-save link: https://smithmusic.ffm.to/jackbarksdale_trances
Enjoy more New Americana Music on our playlist, here: New Americana Music playlist by Americana Highways