Even if your relationship doesn’t always engender fireworks and swelling string sections at the culmination of a gripping saga, it can still be pretty special. So say The Bacon Brothers on their touching new single “The Way We Love,” which debuts today, accompanied by a performance-based video.
The song was written by Michael Bacon, who does the lead singing on the track with heartfelt harmonies from brother Kevin. Both brothers sat down with American Songwriter recently and talked about the new single, the album of the same name coming out this summer, and the impressive longevity their musical collaboration has achieved.
Michael Bacon explained that “The Way We Love” came from just a single line, one that he doesn’t even recall now, that got him rolling. “It was this one line written in this chart that was in my guitar case. And when I picked it up later on at home, I said, ‘That’s a good line for a song.’ And that’s kind of how most songs start. I would say that out of the hundred that start with an idea, one out of that hundred might actually provide enough energy for me to power through and actually get a finished song. I think most songwriters have 99 unfinished songs that are kind of banging around in their heads and one that pushes through and finally gets completed.”
When Kevin Bacon heard it, he loved how the lyrics praise the relationship in the song by listing all the things it is not. “By saying the opposite, it points out what’s really special about relationships. On the other hand, it didn’t surprise me, because it’s a very Michael Bacon song in its arrangement, in its melody. To me, this kind of simple and heartfelt, folky kind of thing is right in the pocket. I just got to the chorus, and it just hit me. It’s him picking up a guitar and singing it straightforward and playing beautiful changes and finger-picking around them. It’s like, how many times can you do that in this world and write something that’s new and fresh and beautiful? I love the song.”
At one point, “The Way We Love” compares the narrator’s relationship to a list of famous romances (Samson and Delilah, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson), and the brothers found a fresh way to approach it. “I guess they were the ones that seemed not the most obvious, not Romeo and Juliet, not Bogey and Bacall,” Michael said. (“Ozzie and Harriet,” Kevin chimed at this point in the interview as a sardonic suggestion.)
“I was having a little trouble with the way that I was proposing those three things,” Michael continues. “When Kevin and I were on our way down 9th Avenue to the studio, I bounced this off him. I looked at it more like they were pictures and I was writing a caption, like ‘Samson setting Delilah’s heart afire,’ Liz Taylor and Richard Burton ‘drowning in their desire,’ and Wallace Simpson and the King ‘walking away.’ I looked at them like they were little photographs I was looking through. We both connected that it was probably the best way to project these three iconic relationships without overdoing it somehow.”
“The Way We Love” is an excellent table-setter for an album with a uniformly upbeat take on falling in love. “Sometimes you don’t even realize the theme until it’s time to name the record,” Kevin explained. “I just kept thinking it’s gotta be The Way We Love. Because it’s the way we love our families, the way we love our women, the way we love our music. That seems to repeat in pretty much all of those songs, and maybe in all songs, in some ways. I think it ends up being pretty thematic.”
Michael said that he feels that happy love songs can sometimes hit home at a more profound level. “I think that if you’re a confessional songwriter, it means that you’re generally drawing from your own experience. Kevin and I have each been married for a thousand years. I think that when I was single and when I was breaking hearts and having my heart broken every other week, there was a lot more fodder for heart-on-the-sleeve, knuckle-in-the-eyes songwriting. If you go out with a girl and you fall in love with her and she dumps you, you’re about five-feet-deep in the ground in terms of where you’re digging. I think in our situation, all six guys in the band, we’re all very deep in our relationships.”
This year marks a quarter-century since The Bacon Brothers became an actual musical entity and not just an informal, fraternal jam session, a milestone which has them reflecting. “I think that one of the reasons it has stayed around so long is we haven’t tried to push it,” Michael mused. “And we don’t really have to, because for neither of us is it our only way of making a living. If we were just two brothers and that’s all we did and we went on the road for 300 days a year, I don’t think we’d still be doing it.”
“It’s just the fact that we do it because we love to do it and we also have incredible managers, a phenomenal agent. The guys in the band I’ve known for 40 years and really trust. A lot of family support. We have four sisters that will drive five hours to come to a gig. Not a great deal of fans but the fans that we have are mighty and super-supportive. I think once you have all those things in place, it starts to get an energy of its own and it rolls along without us having to wrangle it too much.”
Kevin also suggested that their need to keep creating has helped keep The Bacon Brothers afloat. “Songwriting is at the beginning and the end of who we are. I think that’s the reason for the longevity. We don’t sit and try to write an album. Something hits us and we pick up a guitar and write a song. That was from the very beginning. When we did the first record, we had a bunch of stuff lying around, some covers and things that we had worked on probably up to ten years before. All of a sudden, once that one was done, we both kind of said, ‘Well, let’s start writing songs again.’”
“We started writing songs together and we had enough for our second one and our third one and that’s what it’s been about. Every one of these albums has just been a collection of songs that popped out. I know that, for myself, every time I write a song, I think it’s the last one, and then it ends up not being. And that always kind of surprises me. The fact that we have enough tunes together for a new record, it kind of blows my mind.”