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Bobby Bare shines on "The Moon Was Blue”

By Dan MacIntosh, November 2005

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"We've got a couple grandbabies," Bare announces proudly. "We've got one that will be a year old in about a week. We've got another that'll be a two-and-half years old." Bare is convinced that he's a wonderful granddad, too. "I'm the world's greatest, because I'm absolutely crazy about the grandchildren. I never realized it could be like this. Anybody that's a grandparent knows what I'm talking about.

Unlike far too many other artists of his era, Bare doesn't have the need or the inclination to tour incessantly. Instead, he relegates his performances to scattered casino and fair dates throughout the year. "I pick and choose," says Bare about his current performance schedule. "But I've earned the right to do that.

And rather than being constricted by the Nashville Music Row business, Bare has made an album with full artistic control, which just goes to show how it really is possible to age gracefully When his son convinced him to record this latest album, he didn't tell him they were going to record a full album, however.

"He didn't say, 'Let's go into the studio and cut an album,' Bare recalls. "He said, 'Why don't you come in the studio and do some stuff with my musicians. I hadn't been in the studio in years. But it was fun -- more fun than I realized. I sat in the studio with a guitar and the band playing with you, instead of you playing with the band. There's a big difference." This positive recording experience will hopefully lead to more new Bare recordings.

"I probably will," says Bare, when asked if he'll record again. "There are a lot of songs that I would love to record.

It's taken a while to for Bare to regain his studio tan, mainly because his prior recording experience is so closely associated with the loss of a few dear friends.

"I went into the studio with a bunch of friends of mine - you know, Mel Tillis, Jerry Reed, Waylon and Shel Silverstein - called the Old Dogs," Bare recalls. "We did that, and almost immediately after we finished - we spent almost a year together doing that album and had loads of fun - then right after that Shel died, which was a real shocker. He was the only one that I knew that ever really took care of himself. He exercised, did yoga, ate right. And I thought he'd live forever. But bang, he was gone. And then right after that, we lost Waylon. So, I just didn't have it in me to go back into the studio.

Bare knows a lot of the folks associated with the whole outlaw country music movement. But a few of these figures are significantly different than their public personas might lead you to believe.

"Waylon was a real pussycat," recalls Bare. "He was never what he looked like and what he was promoted to be, such as an outlaw, ass-kickin' type of a person. He was the kindest person I knew. I'd known him since the beginning. In fact, I got him his record deal at RCA. And he was just a real kind, good person. There was no meanness in him.

"Now Billy Joe (Shaver), you don't wanna mess with him. He's the real deal. He's the real cowboy who will kick your ass. Billy Joe, now he's a great guy. But he's not gonna take anything from ya.

Speaking of outlaws: does Bobby Bare consider himself one of these outlaws?

"I ran with them, but I never considered myself part of it," says Bare, who lived with Nelson when both were struggling to make it. "I mean the outlaw thing was really just a promotion that Neil Reshen, who managed Willie and Waylon at the time right after that 'Outlaw' album really took off, came up with. And he grabbed that title and ran with it. But it was mostly a PR thing. And it was generated by Neal and his wife. You know, they were good PR people; they knew what to do with it."

He's not an outlaw, yet he doesn't quite fit into Nashville's prefab artistic mold, either. Even so, Bare may have room to quibble with the amount of respect (or lack thereof) he's received over the years. This is the same man, after all, that was once signed to the iconic concert promoter Bill Graham's management company back in 1977.

Graham even referred to Bare as the Springsteen of country music. Of course Bare is not nearly the songwriter or the inspirational figure Springsteen is. And really, who is? Nevertheless, his best recordings, such as "That's How I Got to Memphis" and "Detroit City," are just as representative of the common man's plight, as are The Boss' working man's blues. Additionally, Bare was mixing country roots with folk aspirations by recording Bob Dylan songs, way back in the '60s.

It's unlikely Bobby Bare will ever get the respect he truly deserves. He never attained the kind of popularity that Bill Graham's 'Springsteen of country' prediction should have warranted. But you get the impression from talking to Bare that all of this fame stuff doesn't really matter too much to him. This songwriter's advocate with the rich and distinctive singing voice is someone truly special to those in-the-know. So while the moon may indeed be blue, Bobby Bare certainly isn't.

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