Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bobby Bare

Bobby Bare I only have this one Bobby Bare album, called The Best Of Bobby Bare, an old classic released in the mid 60s, that I picked up on the original vinyl at Into The Music, still on Osborne in those days. He had 8 top 100 singles, including a freak hit from 1974. Have I Stayed Away Too Long was a single that made the lower reaches of the chart in the spring of 64; apart from the ’74 track it’s the only one missing.

Listening to this album makes me wish I had more by Bare. That shouldn’t be too hard to arrange I guess. Bare knows what to do with a song – how to sing it, what to include, what to leave out. He has the right emotional range, you believe every word he says.

Bobby Bare:

Detroit City – The loping guitar figure, all by itself, conveys all the yearning for simplicity and familiarity and comfort and safety that this song represents. It was a favourite; Jan & Dean covered it, so did others. It was false, of course. There was no going back, there never is. From the summer of 1963.
It’s Alright – A song about wandering, about seeking something one never finds. This is a common theme; think I’m A Drifter by Bobby Goldsboro. And of course, when he finally comes home, it’s too late. It’s all in the harmonica. A country hit in 1965.
Four Strong Winds – Ian Tyson wrote this; it was recorded by Ian & Sylvia, and it was a hit for Neil Young in 1978. Another song about restlessness, about conflicting goals and values. From the fall of 1964. This was his last pop hit until Daddy What If was a fluke hit in 1974.
Miller’s Cave – The story of infidelity, jealousy, vengeance, murder, the emotional wilderness, all wrapped up in a cave in the side of the mountain. Hank Snow did this also. From the winter of 1964, contemporary with The Beatles’ invasion of America.
I’d Fight The World – A declaration of true love, in the face of opposition, with mariachi trumpet.
Times Are Getting’ Hard – Another country music hard-luck story. California is the mythical place where everything is better, but there’s no such place like that, and if the singer doesn’t get it, that harmonica does. Shades of Steinbeck. A country hit in 1965,
The All American Boy – A lame Elvis sendup, The story is that Bare recorded a demo for his friend Bill Parsons, and that’s whose named ended up on the record label. A hit in the winter of 1959.
Shame On Me – An I’m guilty song. It’s always so simple in these songs, even conflict is simple. I mean hey, he cheated on her, but it’s ok, he’s sorry. From the fall of 1962.
500 Miles Away From Home – Kind of a follow-up to Detroit City. Here is where he throws in the towel, doesn’t pack because he has nothing to pack, and heads back south, to a simpler time, a simpler place, a time and place that no longer exists, that never existed. And it’s a dream, at the end of the song he’s no closer that he was when he started out, still 500 miles away from home. There’s a chorus singing in the background, like there is in so many of his songs, and the whole was, for its time, a very modern country music sound, but today it sounds like music from the simpler time and place of which he sings; there’s a beauty in the sadness that can’t be described in words. The song, usually called 500 Miles, was a favourite among folk artists in the early 60s, Peter, Paul & Mary most famously; it was written by Hedy West, though Bare’s version features new lyrics and he gets a co-writing credit along with someone called Charlie Williams. A hit for Bare in the fall of 1963.
Dear Wastebasket – Mariachi trumpet up front and centre on this tale of a poor sod whose (ex) girlfriend just throws away his letters without reading them. If his letters are as good as his music, then she’s making a big mistake…
He Was A Friend Of Mine – Recorded by The Byrds as a tribute to John F. Kennedy, and Dylan had a crack at it though his version, recorded in the early 60s, did not turn up officially until The Bootleg Series was released in the late 90s. Here it stands as a simple tribute to a friend, the song as it was meant to be done.
When The Wind Blows (In Chicago) – That’s when he is lonely, get it? Recorded also by Roy Clark.

1 comment:

BC Teoh said...

I wish I could have this LP of Bobby Bare!

I too have a post on another LP of Bobby Bare in my blog.

"Detroit City", "Four Strong Winds" and "500 Miles Away From Home" are my favourites in this album.

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