Americana singer-songwriter Bobby Bare, Jr. is steeped in Nashville history; the son of a Music City songwriter, Bare grew up next door to Tammy Wynette and George Jones. When he was eight, he and his father were nominated for a Grammy for a song they performed based on a Shel Silverstein poem, and for a time Bare appeared on Hee Haw, the immortal Southern TV variety show.
For all that foundation, Bare didn’t become a professional musician until he was nearly 30, though he played guitar his entire life and once said that he avoided at all costs “working a real job,” largely spending time as a roadie and lighting technician. When he finally started writing and performing, he secured contracts with Immortal Records and eventually Lost Highway. These days, he spends time playing rhythm guitar with Guided By Voices, alongside managing a busy solo career.
Bare’s jaunty, acoustic-driven cover of The Smith’s “What Difference Does It Make?” is a favorite. On the one hand, Bare’s gritty, sonorous vocal style largely belies Morrissey’s histrionics—and it’s hard to imagine Johnny Marr, for all his folk influences, conjuring a pedal-steel part on the original version. Nashville is a long way from Manchester. But Bare succeeds in conveying the earnestness and yearning that marks the best of The Smiths’ work. Enjoy.