I started writing a piece on my top five favorite albums ever and started with Boo-Tay, the first album by awesome late 90s-early 2000s rockers Bare Jr. It turned into a piece about how much I love Bare Jr, so I switched it up to just talk about them, one of my favorite bands ever. I may just be their biggest fan. Anybody can argue with that, but it’s true.
It all started one summer day when I was delivering pizzas at the ripe old age of 18 back in the year 1998. During this time I was still listening to the radio a lot. We were at the tail end of the 90s when music, at least for me, was completely awesome. It wouldn’t be for another couple of years before music started sucking again.
While delivering a pizza, I happened to catch a song on the radio called “You Blew Me Off” and I was immediately hooked. I don’t know why, I don’t know what it was that turned me on to it, but I loved it. The only problem was, at the end of the song the DJ didn’t announce who it was or what the song title was. I listened to the radio more so than ever at that point, just hoping to hear it again and maybe hear who it was or what the song was titled.
With no lyrics memorized, I finally called the station and spoke to a DJ. I gave him the best details of the song I could remember, but he couldn’t help me. A week later I heard the song again and caught who it was, Bare Jr. I called into the station to request the song a few days later and they told me they had pulled it from their rotation and couldn’t play it for me.
You may have heard that song before. It’s been on quite a few movie soundtracks and was their biggest hit.
I drove around to all of the music stores and literally at the last one that I knew of in the city, I found one copy of the album, Boo-Tay. I bought it, ran out of the mall to my car and put it in my CD player where it stayed on continuous play for 3 months.
Admittedly, it took me some time to get used to Bobby Bare Jr’s singing (like 4 or 5 tracks). It’s not for everybody. Once I fell for it, I was hooked. The emotion he sings with is unmatched. He doesn’t just sing the words he writes, he delivers them with the emotion that they convey.
The band was something else entirely. Their music ability was something I had not experienced before in a rock band, especially from one straight out of Nashville, TN. They wrote music that didn’t conform to the standards that the music industry had fallen into even at that point, with everyone trying to sound the same. Bare Jr. sounded different. Each song was a masterpiece, telling stories of women who had hurt time and time again, telling of deep scars earned from life, while celebrating other moments. And they had a dulcimer player hooked up to an electric amp. Seriously, WHO DOES THAT?
The album has 37 tracks but only 15 songs (I think). There are a ton of blank 1-2 second tracks after the 14th song all leading up to the last, bonus song. One of the songs, Soggy Daisy, I covered for 2 years while playing out at open mic nights. Not well, but I covered it.
They put out a second album, Brainwasher, which turned out to be just as good as Boo-Tay and spawned another hit for them in the title track. I wrote Bobby an email telling him how big of a fan I was and how I appreciated them keeping their sound through two albums and not conforming to the shitty music standards of the day. And he responded almost immediately. I printed out the conversation and still have it saved. A music star wrote back to me personally. How cool is that?
They disbanded shortly after and they all went their separate ways. Bobby still records music, and it’s still some of the best music out there.
I had never gotten to see them live, which sucked. Now, back to how I’m their biggest fan. If you happened to be a fan of them and you happened to be on Myspace a few years ago and you happened to like their official fan page, that was run by me. I even got into a dispute with Myspace and Sony for posting their songs to that account without proper permission, even though each member of the band told me it was cool by them. Bobby even told me he was “flattered” that I had created the page. And I just looked it up, the page is still up even though I haven’t been back to Myspace for years. So if you’re a fan of that page still and you’re wondering why nothing’s happened to it since, I apologize. I don’t remember my login for it and honestly, I have no desire to go to Myspace again.
It was never said but I’d wager money on it, that due to the popularity of that Myspace page, the band got together for a reunion concert in Nashville. They allowed me to record the show live to distribute copies to everyone who wanted one. I finally got to see them live. I got to personally meet Keith Brogdon, their drummer, and hang out with him back stage. I learned from that meeting and each and every conversation I’ve had with the members over the years that they are all completely awesome stand-up guys. It’s no wonder their fans were so in love with them.
As far as why they broke up, I spoke again to Keith recently and asked him why. He told me they basically were having fun in the beginning and they weren’t in the end. I guess major labels will do that to you. Also an excellent side note to Keith’s whereabouts, he’s a drummer for hire and he’s been playing out with some awesome bands lately. Also, he runs an awesome design company that does up posters and other stuff for bands and I guess whatever else you might need, so if you’re looking for some great work for your next project consider Thinking Out Loud Design.
Because of the Myspace page, Bobby emailed me two songs they had recorded, one for each album, that didn’t make the final cut. These were two unheard, unreleased songs. He allowed me to put them on the Myspace page to share with the fans. At the time, a friend of mine and I were trying to record an album with the songs we had written to play at those open mic nights. Bobby allowed me to re-record one of the two unreleased songs and put it on the album. Sadly, we never finished the album and the song is still unreleased. I did post the song and a few others on our Myspace band page and our Facebook band page. Amazingly, the Myspace page is still there and you can listen to the song and those few others there, if you like. For some reason the Facebook page I created allowed me to upload songs to it, but you can’t find them anywhere on the page, much less listen to them. The cover is “You’re Ruining My Life.” Admittedly their version is much better than mine, but I had fun recording it. Also it should be known that the version on that Myspace page isn’t the final version, it went through some tweaking to get it sounding a little better, but not much.
Just a couple of years ago I finally got to meet Bobby in person at one of his solo gigs. I got a picture with him and my dad and he gave me a copy of his newest CD just for helping him BUILD HIS WEBSITE. He didn’t keep the site, and I don’t blame him. I couldn’t give him what he wanted, but he did use it for a short time, so that’s awesome. I also have his number and his address, should I ever be in Nashville and in jail or something and need a friend to help me out. That is if he’s not touring around the world, which he does all the time.
I also purchased the barejr.net domain and created a fan website for anybody who was still a fan but couldn’t find any info on them. Sadly that site had to close a year later. Even still, I’m friends with them on Facebook and talk to them occasionally. And I still jam out to Boo-Tay all the time. Music will never be like that again. Here’s to hoping they’ll get together and put out a reunion album and maybe tour again like The Toadies did a few years ago, but I’m not holding my breath.
What band or artist totally changed your life?