Jade Bird‘s “Houdini” offers a different side of her forthcoming sophomore album, expected in 2021, than its debut release, “Headstart,” does. Delicate and lilting, the song uses Harry Houdini’s name and legacy as a famed illusionist as a stand-in for those who have walked out of her life in the past.
“I had no control or choice on their appearances and disappearances,” Bird explains in a press release, “sort of like the man himself.”
Bird recorded “Houdini” in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, but wrote the song in upstate New York, where she rented a home to do some songwriting. Below, the singer-songwriter shares the story behind the song, in her own words.
I’d stumbled across [the word] “Houdini” in a song a while ago and was obsessed with the word. My writing often revolves around words, and although I had the word, I never quite had the concept.
A little later, when I was beginning to write my second record, I was renting a house in the mountains in upstate New York and saw this weird, framed picture with a sort of strange, upside-down man that I realised was Houdini. It really caught my imagination, and as I was writing, I came up with the idea that Houdini was a metaphor for all the people, especially the male figures, in my earlier life who came and went, without warning.
Once I’d written it, it felt incredibly cathartic as I realized it was something I’d been trying to explain through my writing for a long time but hadn’t found the way how until now. It came very easy, although I wrote the middle eight with my partner later on: He played the chords, and the words just completely flowed. A lot of this song was catharsis, just closing the door on a complicated past in a way …
Officially, there would have been two drafts, but the chorus was always the same and the first verse. That’s often the essence of the whole tune right there for me.
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