The Red Wheelbarrow

The Red Wheelbarrow

Bobbo Byrnes

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What is success? That's a bit of what I was asking with the songs on my new cd. What does it mean, what do you give up to get there and do you ever get there?  It's something I've been wrestling with and trying to understand.  Is success a monetary number? Is it streams on Spotify? No, it's how you, yourself define it and I don't have it all worked out but I'm trying and striving to be more successful. (whatever that means) 

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I have a tattoo of a red wheelbarrow on my left arm and a lot of people ask me why.   

Well it all goes back to a poem by William Carlos Williams called The Red Wheelbarrow. I can't type in the sixteen words that make up the poem but it can be found here. It's a short but important poem that starts with "So much depends upon" and here's the thing - all he is doing is describing a scene but the scene doesn't exist until the poet says it exists and in that what he is actually saying is "All art depends upon". Because here's the thing - all art is dependent upon one thing and that is the actual doing of it. You'll always hear someone say things like "I could've written that" or "I could've painted that" but they didn't. Do your art, whatever it is and in the words of Andy Warhol - "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."  

That was the motivation behind my new cd. I went to Nashville, TN and in 5 hours Ken Coomer and I recorded 5 songs that became the framework for everything else. I've been a fan of Ken's since way before he was in Uncle Tupelo and Wilco and I knew we were going to keep it rocking and loose. Then I met up with my buds in New Hampshire and Morgan Keating, Jon Grant and Gary Young added some backing vocals to a couple songs and Will Walker played the Wurly piano and Hammond on a song. I got back to California and shockingly got Phil Manzanera to play guitar on my cover of Roxy Music's "Virginia Plain" and then Rami Jaffee put Hammond on four more songs. And then I thought - let's keep this loose and fun, I know what I sound like playing guitar but I know a bunch of great guitar players. What would it sound like if I got a bunch of my friends to join me and it sounds like way more fun. And that's how Travis King, Django Rowe and Tom Bremmer all played guitar on here.  

What about drummers you say?  Well Ken had already played on most of it but I couldn't forget Matt Froehlich so he's rocking on here as well and then Kyrie Anderson flew in from Australia and was staying with us and I had to record something with her.    

Tracy is of course on here playing bass and singing some as well. Her bass playing is what holds all my songs together. My friend Stacy Pendleton also makes an appearance on two songs, so that's different too!  

And there you go. It's so global, it's so right, it's rocking and fun. We learned the songs, we jammed them out and recorded them. Nearly everything is first or second takes and spontaneous. I've gotten so tired of hearing music that is structured and diced and sliced to perfection. People aren't perfect and music ain't supposed to be perfect either. This is rock and roll.