Alex Ebert is lead singer, songwriter and resident shaman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, the hippie-inspired outfit that broke out in 2009 with a fresh sound that was difficult to pin down. Ebert, via his alter-ego messiah character Edward Sharpe, brought back a new earnestness and authenticity to music with country-inspired folk-pop.
With the Magnetic Zeros, Sharpe’s breakout single and signature song across four albums is, of course, “Home.” An ebullient and endearing anthem of love and pure joy, the song has become iconic thanks to its instantly recognizable whistles and indelible opening lyric, “Alabama, Arkansas/ I do love my ma and pa.” Not to mention the mid-song confessional between Ebert and his then-girlfriend and bandmate Jade Castrinos (who co-wrote and shares vocals on the track).
But the veneer of joy on “Home” hides an underlying truth: Ebert used Edward Sharpe to rise above his own personal demons. And out of that reality, Ebert later penned his solo song “Truth” – from his first solo album, Alexander – to set the record straight to his fans. The confessional song, intended to be a companion piece of sorts to “Home,” opens with the haunting lyric, “The truth is that I never shook my shadow.” A long way from “Home” – but still with replete with whistling.
Ebert joined host Peter Csathy for the 10th episode of The Story Behind the Song podcast to discuss his classic “Home.” He takes listeners through the inspirations to the production (including that spoken-word ode to Castrinos), and reveals how the darker realities underpinning “Truth” connect to that original hit. Along the way, Ebert’s candid, raw conversation reveals his musical journey from rapper to spiritual “Bad Guru” (the name of his philosophy and spirituality newsletter).
Listen to the episode above, or watch video of the interview below. Then, be sure to like, subscribe, and review The Story Behind the Song wherever you get your podcasts. You can also keep an eye on the Consequence Podcast Network for updates on all our podcasts, and follow host Peter Csathy on Twitter @pcsathy and check out his company Deep Cuts Media.