When I Know

This morning I heard another new-to-me song by a group I’d not heard of before.

Interestingly, after featuring a piece a couple of days ago and being drawn to the banjo line in it, “When I Know,” by the California, USA-based musical project Psychic Temple, has a catchy string-driven melody with mandolin, double bass, and acoustic guitar-driven melody hooked my attention. I was sure I also heard a banjo near the end, but none is listed in the credits in the YouTube video or shown playing in the film itself… maybe I just have banjo on the brain!

I started looking for information on the group, but, alas, there is no Wikipedia page on them (I find this free, open-source encyclopedia to be the best resource for finding comprehensive, reliable information on musicians and their projects).

One brief piece I found on AllMusic by music and film critic and journalist Mark Deming says this about the project, created in 2010 by Chris Shlarb, a producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist: “Schlarb is an eclectic artist whose work often leans to free jazz and experimental music, but his work under the Psychic Temple banner ranks with his most accessible. Psychic Temple’s recordings combine elements of pop, Americana, and smooth jazz with Schlarb’s more adventurous influences.” Deming goes on to say about the album on which today’s selection appears, “In 2016, Schlarb returned with the third and most ambitious Psychic Temple album, Psychic Temple III. Recorded at Schlarb’s own studio in California and at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, III was steeped in country and soul influences as well as pop and jazz. The set included performances by Spooner Oldham, David Hood, Avi Buffalo, and Dave Easley.” (Of these artists, the only one familiar to me is Avi Buffalo, whose self-titled 2010 album I first heard in Winnipeg’s Parlour Coffee, where I prefaced my workdays with superbly-made coffees for many years.)

“When the sun goes behind the trees
When I know all the names of the birds that sing

When I learn to forget the past
I’ve carried all this time
Can I make every good thing last
Or will I lose my mind?

When the moon goes behind the clouds,
When I know why the dogs bark at every sound

When I learn to forget the past
I’ve carried all this time
Can I make every good thing last
Or will I lose my mind?

Call me out
Don’t let me go
Teach me truth
I’ll never know”

“When I Know,” by Tabor Allen and Chris Schlarb.
Lyrics retrieved from the notes section of the YouTube video.

In the country-folk influenced alternative pop song, I believe the lyricists are speaking to a friend or a lover, seeking help on a journey from past troubles and, at the same time, asking to be held accountable for the work of moving forward. The song has a light, pleasing sound, enhanced with vocal melodies. Meanwhile, the official music video, on the other hand, is unusual in its execution, with lighting treatments moving around the set resulting in moments of darkness, silhouette, soft, and sometimes normal lighting; these elements maybe symbolize the journey.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the official music video from the Asthmatic Kitty record label’s YouTube channel. The record label is a Michigan, USA-based collective led by Sufjan Stevens, whose music also appears on the label, and who is the creator of the banjo song I mentioned above. (And don’t be alarmed when the video below freezes at about 3:18… it does that for everyone and resumes on its own after a couple of seconds!)

With warmest wishes,


2 thoughts on “When I Know

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