Bryan talks to Parade about the upcoming albums, and the truth behind his famous love songs.
Bryan Adams, 54, is channeling some of the best songs in music history with his first new album in more than six years — Tracks of My Years, which will be released Sept. 30.
From Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music,” Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You” to the Beatles’ “Any Time At All,” Adams’ selection of hits is an ode to the songs that have inspired his career.
Adams, who is also an acclaimed photographer, talked to Parade about his new album, famous love songs, and more.
What do you think was the best decade in music?
“The ‘60s. There was so much great music and it was so innovative — there was the Beatles, the Stones, Woodstock, and Zeppelin — I can go on and on. The ‘70s were amazing, too. I actually thought maybe the ‘70s might have been the greatest, but it was only because I was sort of just waking up in the ‘70s to what music was for me.”
Which song on the new album has the most special meaning for you?
“‘God Only Knows.’ It’s a really hard song to sing because it’s such a touching lyric and melody. When I first sang it, you can probably hear it on my voice, I kind of lose it a little bit.”
Your voice sounds fantastic. How have you preserved it after all your years of touring?
“That’s really kind. Honestly, I don’t do anything, I just try to take care of myself. Sleep is a good thing. Eating well, sleeping well, being happy, doing what you love. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to sing. I think everyone can sing — in the car or in the shower or singing to your kids — you can’t help yourself.”
You have two young daughters. How have they influenced your career?
“I surely know more nursery rhymes than I ever did! I can recite them all now, but it’s just all part of the big love.”
What was the first album you owned?
“Probably Rubber Soul by the Beatles.”
When did you know you wanted to be a singer?
“I knew I loved music quite early on — even before I was a teenager. My parents bought me a guitar when I was about 10 instead of a drum set, which was what I really wanted. I wanted to be a drummer and they weren’t going to have that — not in the house! So they gave me the antithesis of that, which was a flamenco classical guitar. Little did they know that it didn’t put me off, I just got into it. The cover of this album is actually a photograph of me when I was 15 and that was the time when I knew that music was what I was going to do by hook or by crook. I was going to get there.”
Your husky voice is one of the most recognizable in the industry. Did you recognize you had a special voice?
“I didn’t. However, I can remember one particular time when my friends and I were all together at a house that had a recording system and we set it up in a room and they said, ‘Ok, who’s going to sing?’ And there was this silence — nobody wanted to put their hand up, so I said, ‘I’ll sing.’ And after the song was recorded there was this other really awkward silence where it was like, did he just do that? And so I just got into it. I enjoyed it and I also figured out if I was going to survive and put stuff in the fridge, being a guitar player was not going to pay the rent because there are 50 guitar players for every singer. By singing I would definitely be able to pay my rent, so I got into it. I practiced and sang wherever I could and got any job to sing that I could. I was doing studio work and I can remember very distinctly one time a check came in for $500 and it was the most money I’d ever seen in my whole life. It was so difficult to fathom that I actually earned some money from doing something that I loved and that I could take my brother and my mom out for dinner and actually pay my rent that month. It was so cool.”
You’ve written some amazing love songs. What’s it like to know that so many couples dance to your songs at their weddings?
“It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? It’s a hell of an honor when someone decides that that’s what they want to do, but it’s not what the songs were written for — a lot of the songs were written for films and particular moments in those films, whether it be ‘Everything I Do’ or ‘Have You Ever Loved a Woman?’ or ‘All for Love.’ They wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t for films. Even ‘Heaven’ was written for a film.”
Tell us about your other passion: photography.
“I’ve worked for Parade actually! I shot one of your covers in 2008 — Mick Jagger.”
That’s incredible. What do you love about that side of your career?
“It’s so simple, all it’s about is starting the day with nothing and at the end of the day having something beautiful. It’s the same thing with music. I love the idea of creating something from nothing.”
The 30th anniversary of your hit album Reckless is next month.
Yes, there’s going to be a big repackage of the album and six unreleased songs on it.”
What would you tell your younger self if you could?
“I think I handled everything OK. I had a laugh. It was great. I had really good people with me and we had a lot of fun — it was an incredibly good time. The pressure was on to deliver, but I think the key to all of it is being able to retain your sense of humor. If you laugh with it and at it, you’ll make it through.”