May 20, 2019

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‘Slow Burn’: Watch Kacey Musgraves Turn Country Music Psychedelic

‘Slow Burn’: Watch Kacey Musgraves Turn Country Music Psychedelic
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Sometimes all it takes is a title. And some LSD.

For Kacey Musgraves, one of country music’s most critically acclaimed singer-songwriters, the germ of the idea for the song “Slow Burn” arrived during a “spiritual journey” — a summertime acid trip, she said — that would help set the tone for her third major-label album, “Golden Hour.”

While gazing off her front porch in Nashville one night during the writing process, those two simple words — slow burn — seemed to speak to so many areas of her life: her appreciation for a good joint or a nice glass of wine; her preferred mode of romance; and her career, which may not include runaway radio hits, but has simmered long enough to earn her Grammy nominations, an opening spot touring arenas with Harry Styles and intense admirers whose devotion grows with every release.

Musgraves, 30, wrote down the concept in her phone — along with the idea for another song, “Mother,” inspired by a mid-trip text from her mom — and the next day, she shared it with her collaborators, Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk. From there, it was all quite old-fashioned, as Musgraves explains in the latest Diary of a Song episode: A Neil Young-esque chord progression captured the mood, and she began creating the vivid, autobiographical slices of life that would make the song’s lyrics some of her most personal to date.

“Daniel started strumming that melody,” Musgraves said, “and it wrote itself really fast.” (The song was later recorded alongside horses in a barn-slash-studio owned by Sheryl Crow.)

“Slow Burn” would go on to become the opening number on “Golden Hour” — “If you hear that song and you don’t like it, you’re not going to like the rest of this record, so stop listening, basically,” Musgraves said — and a prime example of her musical strengths. At once a traditional country songwriter, favoring tight rhymes and wordplay, and a progressively minded pop fan, Musgraves stretched a straightforward acoustic ballad into a subtle mission statement that still told a story.

See how the song came together in the video above.

“Diary of a Song” pulls back the curtain on how pop music is made today, using archival material — voice memos, demo versions, text messages, emails, interviews and more — to tell the story behind the track. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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