Bobby Bare Jr. admits that it required getting his heart broken to come up with the songs for his latest album.
But he named the project Undefeated, as a signal that he might be down, but he's not out. Not even the end of his relationship with the mother of his youngest child, who is 3, will get Bare down for too long.
A look at some of the song titles gives a clue to their inspirations: "My Baby Took My Baby Away," "If She Cared," "As Forever Became Never Again," "The Elegant Imposter" and "Blame Everybody (But Yourself)."
The album was released April 15 by Bloodshot Records, a prominent Chicago label that specializes in Americana and roots rock music.
Bare, 47, was born and raised in Nashville, Tenn., where his musician parents made every effort to discourage him from following their career trajectory.
"Our parents didn't want us kids to grow up screwed up," Bare says. "Kids aren't supposed to be famous when they're young. So I went off to college at the University of Tennessee and got a degree in psychology, which has come in handy. The best songwriters I know, like Billy Joe Shaver, are really good observers of people."
It was Bare's parents' best friend, Shel Silverstein, who advised young Bare on his songwriting progress -- or lack of it, when it was lacking. After he graduated from college, as he made up his mind to avoid a "real job" at any cost, Bare started a roots rock band he named Bare Jr. in the 1990s. The band released two albums: Boo-Tay in 1998 and Brainwasher in 2000. He then formed a band he called the Young Criminals Starvation League, which released a self-titled album in 2002.
He has since released a series of solo albums: From the End of Your Leash, Live: Nick Nacks & Paddy Whacks, The Longest Meow and A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head. He has also been the subject of a documentary film released in October, Don't Follow Me: (I'm Lost).
His father, Bobby Bare, who joined the Country Music Hall of Fame last fall, had racked up hits on the country charts in the late 1950s and into the '80s. His best known hits were "Detroit City," "500 Miles Away From Home," "Miller's Cave," "Streets of Baltimore," "Four Strong Winds" and "Marie Laveau" (on which the junior Bare and his siblings provided the witch's scream on the song about a famous New Orleans voodoo queen). And then there's "Shame on Me," which he wrote and recorded -- it was the senior Bare's first hit -- and his son also recorded.
"I always steered clear of doing one of Dad's songs my whole life until January," Bare says. "Fat Possum Records released a 7-inch single of me doing that, 'Shame on Me.' I figured that I have earned the right to do that one."
Bare is no stranger to central Arkansas. He recalls opening a show for the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies at Juanita's in 1988.
Though he primarily performs his own compositions, he occasionally includes a cover song by Lou Reed, Neil Young or Dr. Hook.
Bare's band includes Matt Martin on drums, Matt Rowland on keyboards and Jesse Bates on bass.
"Two-thirds of the band are from Arkansas," Bare says. "Matt Rowland is from Hope and Jesse is from Little Rock."
Weekend on 05/22/2014
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