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Bruce Robison basks in "Country Sunshine"

By Jeffrey B. Remz, October 2001

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What Robison didn't like was the drums, though he doesn't blame the drummers. "The drummers were wonderful - it's kind of the technology these days and the approach you have to (take)," he says. "You let things get away. It's partially my fault. At the end of the recording process, I'd end up with this tape of 50 different things. You listen to the radio, and the sounds are huge. That is the state of the art now."

"It's hard for me to back off of that because you actually have a lot of pressures pushing you that way. Labels are trying to push you to what's succeeding at the moment."

"It's kind of a struggle to figure out who you are," he says. "It takes a lot of time. You make certain mistakes."

One of the saddest songs is "Friendless Marriage," a duet with wife Willis in the Tammy and George genre. The title actually came from something Willis said to Robison one morning.

"I write for harmonies," Robison says, adding, "Plus I get to sing with Kelly. Whenever I get a chance to, I make that happen. She's all over this one." Willis said on 8 of the disc's 11 songs.

By far the most humorous and different song is "What Would Willie Do," as in Willie Nelson. "I don't know if I'm the first person who said that. It was just kind of a joke. I said that was kind of my credo."

The song gives some of Willie's history including troubles with the IRS, his hit single with Julio Iglesias, his wife sewing him up in a bedsheet and his penchant for marijuana.

"One day when I was actually mowing the grass, which is kind of a meditative thing for me, I thought about it. I don't know if I started writing a song in my head, once I started writing the song, it came really really fast. I'm not much into being a novelty guy, but I really liked the guy (Nelson). Then, it went over so well live."

"Devil May Care" is Robison's "version of a swing tune even though it did go into a little kind of area - a Beatlesly, jaunty kind of thing. That song has a sense of humor about it. Some cool harmonies, some really deep playing. It's a fun little country song I think."

The native of the small Texas town of Bandera headed for Austin after a stint at West Texas State University did not work out. "I didn't know what I was going to do," he says. "I had my family here, and I'd been coming here my whole life. It's kind of an oasis in some ways. It's just a great little college town. Charlie and I moved here together in probably '88."

The Robisons played in a country band together, Chaparral, in a scene filled with roots rock in the early '90's.

But cooking and being a messenger for a law firm helped Robison make ends meet.

His real love was songwriting. "I decided to be a songwriter. Once I started, it seemed like it choose me more than anything. When I was playing with Chaparral, I put in a couple of songs. The Wagoneers drummer (an Austin-based band) and then Lauderdale's publisher heard it.

Willis recorded his first song, "Take It All Out on You" on her final MCA disc.

"When I started writing songs, the doors started opening to me. It was years and years later that I got the first cut that I did. The moment I started writing songs, I felt good at it. It was the first time. I was a lousy basketball player. I was a lousy student."

"Writing songs always interested me. I felt a confidence in it that was really something. I never really needed to have my songs cut. I felt like they were good no matter whether anyone heard them or not."

He also released his self-titled debut in 1995 and "Wrapped" a few year's later before moving onto Lucky Dog.

"I felt if I made another record like I did before with them, then I was going to be really frustrated if I put it out and I didn't make significant steps forward. It was looking around saying what am I doing this for?"

"I want to do music the way I want it to sound. Music, a lot of times is so over the top, and it doesn't fit me. When I was on Lucky Dog, there were so many things. I'd go out on stage, and they'd arrange for a guy to bring the band on, I'd come out there and play my little songs, and everything would be so incongruent and be so out of place. Other people who are friends of mine...Charlie and Jack (Ingram) would say, 'you got to go up there, and rock the house, and let it go. I'd say, 'That's not what I do.' I'm really okay. Whoever comes to see me will come to see me. Whoever buys my record, buys my record."

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