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Bobby Bare Jr.

As a kid, Bobby Bare Jr. got to hang out with some Nashville heavyweights. He watched the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash sit around the table playing cards with his dad, iconoclastic country singer, Bobby Bare. Impressed as he was by these icons, however, his true songwriting hero has always been Shel Silverstein. A successful children's book author, playwright, and irrepressibly witty lyricist, Silverstein became best known for tongue-in-cheek story anthems such as Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" and Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone."

Bare relates to him, because he believes Silverstein's deeper, darker material tended to get lost in the glare of so-called "novelty songs," and he worries that something similar could happen to him. Songs that Bare considers sad and miserable are often interpreted as laugh riots by his fans. For instance, "Let's Rock and Roll," a track from Bare's 2004 album, From the End of Your Leash. A kind of twisted "Turn the Page," this song manages to find something fresh to say about the grind of musicians hitting the road, or at least recognizes the absurdity of the predicament. When Bare devotes a full verse to detailing the vomit on the wall of the club

Bobby Bare Jr.'s
Young Criminals' Starvation League

Fri, Mar 18
1719 Blanco
he's playing, the effect is comic, but not to Bare. He regards it as an almost unbearably pathetic tale.

Bare is at his best when he's straddling - if not blurring - the lines between pathos and humor, as in the murderous love lament "Valentine," and the "devil's up your nose" saga of "The Terrible Sunrise." He also possesses the kind of sonic boldness you'd expect from someone molded by outlaw country and given to playing Pixies covers in Nashville bars and recording with the former members of Pavement for a Silver Jews record. He's a product of Music City, but he'll never be a slave to its whims.

Gilbert Garcia

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