UTG PREMIERE: The Last Tycoon – “Independence Day”

the last tycoon death by dixie song premiere

John Gladwin, better known as his stage name The Last Tycoon, dives into an under-appreciated corner of Americana bliss with his latest track, “Independence Day.” The closing track off of his new record, Death By Dixie, the song is an epic aural adventure — sending the listener into an entirely different world. It has a simple sound, but the depth of the track comes with how easily it transports the listener.

Enlisting Jim White (David Byrne, Aimee Mann) for production, the sound of the song is almost haunting — a testament to the depths of Gladwin’s songwriting. Gladwin had this to say about the new song:

“Independence Day” is the last song on Death By Dixie, and the last to be recorded. The lyrics are from a short story I wrote. The narrator is an American soldier who returns home after a tour of duty in the Middle East and finds himself married. The song is his internal monologue as he drives through his small American town feeling like an outsider, feeling detached from his family and his former life. The place he fought to protect now feels to him like a foreign country.”

He also commented on working with White and the production process of the song:

Going into the studio, I had the chords and melody for the song, but no real idea about the arrangement. The day of recording, the band and I worked up a groove with a reggae feel. At the end of the session, our keyboardist, Danny Mitchell, packed up and was out the door to catch a flight. I noticed he brought a trumpet, so I asked him to take a quick pass with the horn. He reluctantly agreed to do it, but ended up playing a beautiful solo in one take. It was completely spontaneous, and it’s now my favorite part of the record.

Working with Jim White, we took the reggae track and made it more intimate. As a producer, Jim is every bit as concerned with the characters in the song as the musical aspects of the track. For him the two are intertwined. I whispered the vocal in the beginning, and Jim took out the drums for the first half, and it cut straight to the emotion of the song. The finished track is a mixture of those two sessions. “Independence Day” is a product of the tension between spontaneity and deliberate revision, and in between those two things, you can find some great work.

Listen to “Independence Day” here:

Death By Dixie is out May 19. Pre-order the record here.

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