Del Barber Looks for a Lost Brother in “Big Smoke”


One of the albums that grabbed me in 2014 is Del Barber’s Prairieography. Although he was inspired creatively by the open spaces of his native Canada, Barber still writes in a universal way. His own bad luck seems to be a ripe topic for his lyrics, but in “Big Smoke,” he turns his attention to a brother who’s moved to Toronto to get away from everything, including his family.

“‘Big Smoke’ is a song based on the story of the Prodigal Son,” Barber says. “When I was a kid, I had this major crush on a very, extremely religious Christian girl — very hell-bent on keeping that Good Book between us, literally. So I went and got a copy of the Bible from the hotel somewhere – 16 years old on a hockey trip. I started mining its pages for pickup lines.”

What he found instead was a story from Biblical times that is still relatable today.

“I ended up reading, over and over, the story of the Prodigal Son,” Barber adds. “This song is just an attempt to retell it, but instead of being way back then, it’s on some farm somewhere in the Midwest or in the Canadian prairies.”

Barber will be spending the holidays in Australia, just in time for a summer tour Down Under. Look for him back in the U.S. in April at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Enjoy the CMT Edge live performance of Del Barber’s “Big Smoke.”