Berninger recorded the album with Memphis legend Booker T. Jones. The pair first collaborated on Jones’ 2013 song “Representing Memphis”, but it wasn’t until Berninger set out to make his own album that he realized Jones would be the perfect in-studio partner. Per The New York Times,
“When I was growing up, my dad only had about five records,” said Berninger, who hired Jones to produce his upcoming solo record. ‘I remember Judy Collins, Roberta Flack, Waylon Jennings, and I remember [Willie Nelson’s] Stardust.’ Berninger wanted someone who could corral nearly 20 guest musicians, and someone who could provide the late-night, timeless atmosphere that Stardust conjures. He immediately thought of Jones, whom he had met during a collaboration with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings in 2013, even though he didn’t realize that Jones was the co-visionary on Nelson’s album at first. It seemed impossible that the same person who created a new genre of Memphis soul in 1962 could also reinvigorate the standard 15 years later, then stay relevant into the 21st century as an elder statesman.”
Berninger announced Serpentine Prison in an Instagram post on Friday. “Kind, patient, visionary genius @bookertjonesmusic produced and arranged my solo record. It’s called Serpentine Prison. More about it soon but basically I’m the luckiest man in the universe with lots of brilliant friends who can play instermints. Not worthy!” Berninger wrote.
In related news, Berninger recently teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers for “Walking On A String”, which appears in the new film Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Meanwhile, The National are gearing up to release a new live album, Juicy Sonic Magic, for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event.
Jones is gearing up to release his own new album, Note By Note, as well as a companion memoir called Time is Tight.