Photo by Liz Gander

New Music Heaven : Barns Courtney

August 6, 2017
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Growing up in Seattle, Barns Courtney's passion for music was apparent early on. “I’ve always written songs, for as long as I can remember,” he says. “I wrote songs before I could play an instrument, just little poems or whatever, as young as six or seven years old." Things really took off when his aunt gave him a guitar at the age of 14 and Courtney dedicated himself to songwriting.

“I knew that what I was writing was terrible,” he says, “but I thought that if I kept working, by the time I was 20, I might be alright.” But after a record deal fell apart, and he spent years working at clubs and a computer store, his frustration fueled the songs he was writing. “They were all about aspects of the same feeling, a desperation to get back in touch with the burning passion I had when I started out,” he says. “That huge, defiant feeling—‘I’ll show them, I’ll get there somehow,’ a sense that burns in your gut.”

That burned, quite literally, into Fire, his first U.S. single, which has been streamed more than 12 million times and allowed him to open for The Who at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Now Courtney is at work on his full-length debut, but for this overnight sensation who was years in the making, the greatest pay-off for his work comes when he takes the stage each night. “It’s nice to have people like my music, but that’s fleeting,” he says. “The real reward is that exchange of energy when the singer and the crowd are both on the same level—when there’s an equal playing ground and we’re all in it together.”

This week on New Music Heaven we're checking out his new song Golden Dandelions. Text HOT if you like it and NOT if you don't to 44624 to help us decide whether to keep playing it*, and check your Nation e-mail for a free download of the song courtesy of Burgerville!