Note: Please bear in mind that I was in a coffee shop when I started writing this, and I have a strong feeling somebody slipped something in my drink (which might explain the above title), something that was taking the edge off my fevered rebellious nature and was turning me into a 9-5 suburban white picket fence grunt – most likely it was an MI5 operative, as I have it on good authority they’ve been following me in a bid to take my soul away…
Right, let’s get on to Barns Courtney…
Sure, I thought everything would be okay last night when I saw the new Netflix crime thriller Safe with Dexter actor Michael C. Hall. But then with the opening credits was a song by Barns Courtney. At first I was taken in. It sounded pretty good. So I went on Spotify to check the guy out. And there he is, Barns, smoking a goddamn cigarette.
Who smokes cigarettes today? And it’s more than possible than nicotine consumption leads to hard drugs.
What kind of example is he setting to the youth of this nation?
Worse still, when Barns was painfully poor living in London he subsisted on “sardines and kale”, saying it was a “very nutritious” way of living. Let’s face it, “sardines and kale” was code, right? Code for heinous substances. And what could be more heinous than sardines and kale?
Barns must be stopped NOW before the four horsemen of the apocalypse saddle up and ride.
BUT WAIT… whatever it was that was that was slipped in my drink is beginning to wear off… and I’ve just swallowed a couple of crank capsules to get things on an even keel. I’m feeling a LOT better now.
And now I’m SEEING THE LIGHT. Barns Courtney is one of us! One of the rebel crew! He’s a raging typhoon of rebellion, power and raw emotion. He’s riding the waves of this deranged dystopian age of lies we’re living in and he’s now getting his voice of dissent heard.
Born in Britain, Barns and his family moved to Seattle when he was four, returning to the UK when he was fifteen.
Perhaps best described as a UK Johnny Cash, Barns’ music is deep, gutsy blues, full of emotional edge. But it’s been a monumental struggle to get his music to the world. As Barns puts it, “Rock bottom is an extremely motivating place.”
He’s been dropped from a record label, been homeless, and has literally begged producers to make his music. He spent three years in LA, but the album he made there wasn’t released.
He thought he was gonna be a rock star, but it seemed like everything conspired against him.
“People vastly underestimate the power of failure,” he says. “I thought I had made it … but had the rug pulled out from under my feet.”
He didn’t give up. Eking out a living with odd jobs, he was eventually signed up a second time. And only just avoided being dropped from the label when his tune “Fire” was used in the Bradley Cooper movie Burnt.
The movie bombed, but a Seattle DJ loved Barns’ song and played it a lot, leading to airplay across the US.
Such was Barns’ dedication, he went as far as mixing the track himself over ten hours on his laptop in a Starbucks in east London.
Ironically the track got used in a trailer for the grim, depressing and suicide-inducing soap Coronation Street, which (surprise, surprise) is set in Northern England.
Barns is not a fan. “It’s the most boring soap opera. Even the theme tune knows it’s boring. It’s borne into my subconscious and reminds me of being bored out of my mind.”
All sane people echo that.
But now Barns looks set to burn the rock and roll highway to the heights, what with his truly sublime track Glitter & Gold (see below) used as the theme for Neflix Original Safe… sure, he’ll always have the four horsemen on his trail, but you can be sure Barns wouldn’t have it any other way.
And the fact is, there’s so much homogenized stuff out there now – not just music, but also books, movies, TV – but Barns is bringing something real to the table. And we need him…
Author and journalist