“With American Bread I tried to sincerely embrace the songs with one arm and molest them with the other hand, with just as much enthusiasm.”
On his new EP American Bread, Bobby Bare Jr. covers the songs of ‘70s soft-rock giants Bread and America. American Songwriter caught up with the Nashville-based scion.
First off, you took part in this year’s Shel Silverstein tribute SHELebration. How was it? What was your favorite part of the event?
There were over 8,000 people, with kids dancing as their parents sipped wine on the lawn. The best part was Will Oldham and Jon Langford doing the Rikki Tikki song. It was a crazy back and forth comedy routine.
Tell us about the decision to cover these songs? What was the first song you knew was going to be on the EP?
”Sister Golden Hair.” There are two versions on the EP, an alpha and a beta.
When did you discover Bread?
It fits into my “school bus music” category. I had to ride the school bus for one hour twice a day and we got to listen to 70’s FM radio through little speakers. It was great. America. Bread. Seals and Crofts. Dan Fogelberg. All that stuff is stuck in my head.
What do you think about the current state of covers? A lot of artists are sampled or remixed, but not covered the way you do it here. Do you wish more artists/songwriters covered their favorite songs on records or live albums?
It’s a fun way to say something about your own musical taste or lack of taste.
What do you think goes into a great cover?
With American Bread I tried to sincerely embrace the songs with one arm and molest them with the other hand, with just as much enthusiasm.
You’ve got two versions of “Sister Golden Hair” on the EP. How many did you record?
1,272,000. The polka version was just too real so we didn’t use it.
What was it like working with singer-songwriter David Vandervelde on this record?
He is my friend and lives close to where my kids were going to school. His enthusiasm and talent prop me up real good. I hope to do the next full length with him and have that done by the end of the year.
Did working on these covers, living in these songs for a while, change your own songwriting?
The words are kinda silly: “Birds and plants and rocks and things.” So no. But it did inspire my arrangement desires, though.