Recording 'Wishbone' a fortunate move for Bobby Long
Having made some hay in the Americana/folk/singer-songwriter medium, British-born Bobby Long opted, upon relocation to New York City a couple of years ago, to go full-bore on roots and country-inflected rock 'n' roll.
It is, on a much smaller scale, similar to Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones -- and early Beatles and Zeppelin -- bringing American blues music back to America.
"There must be something to the idea of English bands bringing (something American) over and playing it back to you," Long joked.
"I still think I'm coming at it from the standpoint of this Englishman weirdo in America, in this strange country."
How else to explain Long's sounding like he grew up in the dusty Texas desert or the poetic eastern seaboard? Well, his father's love of folk music -- Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Paul & Mary -- coupled with his mother's bent toward electric rock such as the Beatles and T. Rex, made for an interesting blend that led young Long to the music of the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty and the fountainhead of country rock, Gram Parsons.
"I don't know, I'm just into that kind of music," Long told The Beat.
Which in turn helps explain why Long always felt drawn to live in the States -- in NYC, specifically.
"I moved to London when I was 19. I had been playing for a few years, but I just wanted to be the guitar player, to hide behind somebody. I started singing when I realized I was a bit too selfish. I was writing my own songs, so I decided I'd better be the one to sing them.
"In London, I was playing four to five nights a weeks with a group of self-indulgent singer-songwriters who hate each other secretly," Long quipped.
"I knew, when I got the opportunity, I was going to end up in New York."
Two things spurred him on. First, his song Let Me Sign turned up on the soundtrack for the original Twilight film (sung by Robert Pattinson). He welcomed the attention but insisted that the song wasn't representative of what he was writing. Second, he "met a girl." The support of her family has helped Long transition from one side of the Atlantic to the other.
And, as noted earlier, he delved even deeper into American-roots forms. He changed again his modus operandi for his latest album, Wishbone.
"I always want to push myself. I tend to draw on anything emotional that is happening at the time, but I took that and tried to do something I'd never done before, which was to write in 3:50 rock songs. Focusing on riffs and harmonies, saying what I wanted to say and still being personal but doing it in a more concise way."
And, he acknowledged, "I wanted a chance to have the songs played on radio and be heard."
Meantime, the songs are being heard in clubs, as Long has embarked on a headline tour of North America in support of Wishbone.
"I'm really enjoying playing these songs. There's something exciting about having new music (Wishbone has been out about six weeks now) and playing songs for people and hoping that people are going to like it."