A few weeks ago, to mark the occasion of the release of Bobby Bare's new album Darker Than Light, we asked you to take the mic and pose some questions for the artist himself. Considering the disc presents Bobby's performances of some of the most timeless and timely folk/roots/Americana tunes, from "John Hardy" and "Boll Weevil" to a twang-tinged turn on "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", we were looking forward to what the ND community might have in store for him.
Well, Bobby has chosen the winners (who will each receive a copy of the disc) and sent us his answers to your questions. Thank you to everyone who entered this contest, thanks to Mr. Bare, and congratulations to our winners.
Now, without further ado, here is your interview with Bobby Bare.
Who is the one person you wish you had been able to collaborate with, either in writing or recording?(Jimmy Anderson)
Hank Williams. I think Hank and I could write a really good song together, as if he needed me. I wrote one song with Harlan Howard and that was it. I wish I had written more with him. Hank Cochran and I tried to write a song together in California in 1956-57. We tried to write a song out there and didn’t quite get it finished. I wish I got to write more with Hank.
With the amazing collaboration that your performances and Shel [Silverstein]'s songs turned into, I was curious to how you and he first met? (Cody White)
I think it was about 1970 or 71. Harlan Howard had a big party at his house and all the great songwriters were there. I had been going around town to get all the great songwriters to write me an album that connected and made sense, but at the time they were all geared for single records because that’s what the music business was about in those days. Everybody had a song or two they thought would be a hit, but nobody had an album. I was becoming very frustrated. Then I ran into Shel at the party and told him my dilemma. That was on a Saturday night. Monday morning Shel called from Chicago and said he had me an album. I said, “Well, when can I hear it?” He said, “How bout today?” So he hopped on a plane and came to Nashville. Started singing the songs from Lullabys, Legends and Lies. I remember him sitting on the floor of my office singing “The Winner” and I had to make him quit because I was laughing so hard my head was hurting. He sang me all the songs. What he’d really done was he went to Chicago and wrote Lullabies Legends and Lies, just that song. Then he went into his list of songs and came up with songs that were either a lullabye, a legend, or a lie, and that’s how we did it. That’s how we first met.
What music did your folks listen to? (Jim Meadows)
Like everybody else in the country, they had a radio and listened to country music, the Grand Ole Opry on Saturdy nights on a battery radio. I remember our battery running down. You couldn’t just go out and buy a battery, so we didn’t have it for a while. I remember walking around the hill until I’d hear somebody playing it and I’d sneak down the hill in the dark to the back of their house and listen to the Grand Ole Opry. There’s something wrong about that, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet.
Can you tell us about the first tour of Europe you ever did with Jim Reeves, Chet Atkins, and the Anita Kerr Singers? What was the reception you got from European fans? (Peter Dukes)
Well, we went to Europe on a promotional tour during the Spring of 1964. We worked every major venue in Europe. Every major city: Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Stockholm. They broadcasted all of it. Jim and I were already pretty big stars in Europe. This tour made us all superstars. In fact, to this day I am one of the biggest stars ever in Scandinavia. Anytime I want to be a superstar I go to Scandinavia and pretend I’m the Rolling Stones.
Is there enough recorded material from this session for a follow-up CD? (RJ Hall)
Yeah, there is. We did 22 sides. We didn’t get in the Tom Waits song. When I told Tom T. Hall, the first thing out of his mouth when I told him what I was doing was, “Did you do Barbara Allen?” I said yes I did, it’s about 15 minutes long but I did it.
Did hear there was a Tom Waits cover from your last album - that needs to see the light of day! Back when you "Were a Young Man Once," who could out-drink whom - Tom T. or you? (Cody White)
I’m a Tom Waits fan. Back in the late seventies, I cut my hair recording "San Diego Serenade," which Tom Waits wrote. I went to see him once in Minneapolis. He was working the big theater up there. He didn’t know it, but I was in the audience because I’m a big fan. I recently did a Tom Waits song. It didn’t make this album, but maybe the next one.
I couldn’t hang with Tom T. No way. He made me look like a pussy.
Is there any chance of you, Hayes Carll, and Shooter Jennings collaborating on anything in the near future? (Glenn Humphrey Swarbrick)
I was going to write with Hayes Carll last summer. He’s friends with Bobby Bare, Jr. I’m a big Hayes Carll fan, I love his work. His sense of humor is close to Shel Silverstein. I plan on writing with him in the future.
Who are your favorite songwriters? Also, which ones made good fishing buddies? (Lisa Sullivan)
My favorite songwriters are just like everyone else’s. Silverstein, Kristofferson, Harlan Howard, and on and on. They’re all great. Jamey Johnson is a great songwriter. So is Mel Tillis, and that answers the question of who makes the best fishing buddy. He’s a hard core fisherman. He’s the first one to take me to Florida fishing in 1967, I think it was. I know Jeannie was pregnant with Bobby Jr. and we drove down there and did some serious bass fishing for about a week.
One of my favorite records is Rosanne Cash's Right Or Wrong from back in '79, which included your duet with Rosanne on "No Memories Hangin' Round". How was it working with Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell back in those days? (I am a big fan of both.) (Chris Sweeney)
So am I. It was great working with them. That was Rosanne’s first record, our duet. It got in the top 10, maybe the top 5. It went by unnoticed because her follow up record was Seven Year Ache. Rosanne and Rodney are lovely people, they belong together and I’m just sorry they’re not. I love Rosanne. Rodney produced an album for me after that. It was really a good album too. He’s a great harmony singer.
Your duet albums with Skeeter Davis are classics. This used to be a pretty standard practice in the country music world with some phenomenal combinations...Porter & Dolly, Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson & Jan Howard, etc. Is there any female artist that you would like to record a whole album with? And are there a couple of artists you would love to see record a full-length male-female duet record today? (Chris Davis)
It’s kind of hard for me to do duets because I have a low voice. It was difficult doing an album with Skeeter, because she was such a great harmony singer and I can sing lead but I’m not a good harmony singer. A lot of that album was sung in unison. There’s a lot of female artists now that I would like to sing with, but I think I’m a little bit too old for the match. The artists I’d really like to record a full length duets record is Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I love Miranda’s records so much. Blake is not a slouch, but he’s a male.