Fri April 29
1 SW 3rd
Way back in 2002 Bobby Bare Jr. wrote one of the single greatest songs ever, but odds are you've never heard it. Buried a half-dozen tracks deep into his Young Criminals' Starvation League album, "Dig Down" is the sort of planet-aligning moment in which everything comes together perfectly for a songwriter. Bare bemoans how all the good ideas in rock music have already been taken, only to name them all in a laundry list of clever one-liners ("Chuck Berry, Chuck Berry, you wrote the only original song/Some white boys stole it, we all still sing along"). The genius of "Dig Down" is how it was birthed by someone who knows all too much about what it is like being a musician underneath someone's shadow.
The man whom Jr. shares a name with was Outlaw Country legend Bobby Bare, a singer who shared the stage with the likes of Waylon Jennings and was once awkwardly declared by Bill Graham to be the "Springsteen of country music." If the ever-looming shadow of a music legend for a father wasn't enough, Bare Jr. had a rough patch of years in the '90s, bouncing from act to act, and leaving a hefty amount of major label contracts in his wake.
Now settled on indie Bloodshot Records, Bare has never sounded better. Last year's From the End of Your Leash is more clever country tunes that lean heavy on the downtrodden moments in life, but still beam with the wit of a songwriter whose sense of humor might be his greatest gift. The tongue-in-cheek "Visit Me in Music City" joyfully portrays Nashville as a Country music utopia where "guitar strings grow on shrubs and maple trees," only to fall back to reality with lines like "The world's greatest living guitar pickers/Can deliver you a pizza or sell you weed."
Despite having such a looming Country pedigree, Bare is hardly a boots and twang singer. Instead his music is rooted in traditional pop (female backing vocals and handclaps are common), plus he's collected more than a fair share of cred points by recording with Frank Black, Will Oldham, and Silver Jews. With so many albums brimming over with quality songs, Bare Jr. is destined to pen many more amazing tunes--just make sure you're listening next time.