I made another record, once. Did you know? You can still find it in dark corners of the internet if you look hard enough.
It's a morbid affair, lots of heartbreak and sad acoustic guitars. I couldn't afford to record drumkits back then, and my long-departed violinist and I shivered through the whole despairing thing. It's 45 minutes of some of the most personal bits of my life up to then, real and imagined. I loved it and still do. But it's not a pop record.
Music is malleable and things change. Sometimes you need something to tap your foot to, something to hum in the in-between moments. A lightness of touch goes a long way. I mean, this whole endeavour is about finding some kind of silver lining amongst perennially dark clouds (and that really seems no more appropriate than today, when Donald Trump leers victorious over the waiting world for the first time).
So, Barcelona is an honest-to-god pop song. It sways and steps along at its own pace, with no urgency. I wanted it to be easy on the ear (but, importantly, not easy listening). So much new music is sold as being challenging, or providing something new. Barcelona is sort of the antithesis of that, playing it deliberately straight and relying on a catchy chorus. Maybe I'm just getting old.
I think that Jonny Booth's pedal steel makes it. I still have no idea how he does it, given that it appears to take five limbs to play, but I think it gives the whole thing a lovely island feel. Jonny's pedal steel parts - all his own - are laced throughout the record and are one of my favourite things about it. For a long time, before Jonny came to the studio, Barcelona began with just the drums and an acoustic guitar. And it was rubbish. Hearing it as intended, when he first played the pedal steel parts live in the studio, was a revelation. It transformed the song.
I quit my job a few years ago, and lived a few long months as a genuine starving artist. Without much artistry at that point, admittedly. There's a bit in this song about sleeping through the daytime and drinking in the night, which was basically my life at that point. It's easy to feel like you're drowning in that situation. Too much pressure and too few prospects. So I suppose that all found it's way in here, in some sense.
I say 'baby' a lot in this song, which is a terrible habit but really is just a callback to Barcelona being such a simple, straight pop song.
Also it rhymes with loads of words. Seriously.