Tracks of My Years Interview – ABC News
Bryan Adams’ new album, Tracks of My Years, his first studio effort in six years, is out this week, and it features the Canadian singer/songwriter taking a walk down memory lane to revisit some of the great songs of his youth. He’s also revisiting his youth via the album’s seriously embarrassing cover photo, which shows a 16-year-old Adams sporting some unbelievably long, pure 1970s hair.
“My hair is way down past my nipples,” he laughs. “I was really into hard rock back then. I still am into hard rock, but particularly then, because it was the time, you know. It was 1975. I was into Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and a lot of other hard rock, of course, and I looked like one of the roadies that fell off one of the buses, you know?”
While hard rock may be Bryan’s preferred music genre from that era, Tracks of My Years mostly features pop and pop-rock hits from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The concept came from one of the producers, David Foster, and at first, Adams didn’t want to do it, because he was afraid he couldn’t bring anything new to classics by legends like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys. But his other producer, Bob Rock, talked him into it.
“He said, ‘Look, you got a great opportunity to have a record deal in America again, and why don’t you just do it and have some fun? If it doesn’t work out, don’t put it out,'” recalls Bryan. “[And so I said], ‘That’s a good idea. So, let’s just go have some fun.’ And that’s what happened.”
Adams and his producers came up with about 40 songs that they then whittled down to the final track listing, which in addition to songs by the Fab Four, Dylan and The Beach Boys, but also The Association, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Manhattans and Chuck Berry.
“It was just a sort of process of just elimination, and you could tell almost instantly whether a song was working, within the first verse,” Bryan says of the process, which took about three months, spread over two years. “And generally what I would do was I’d go out and sit on a microphone…with a guitar, and I would just start playing the song and singing it. And, if within that first few chords it started to sound like something, someone would come…and say, ‘OK, that’s good. Let’s do this!'”
What he’s ended up with, Adams says, is an album that isn’t actually made up of songs that he was personally connected to. Instead, it features tunes that mimic the genre-blurring that he experienced growing up listening to AM radio, where anything that was a hit was played, no matter what type of music it was.
“AM radio was kind of king,” he tells ABC News Radio. “And I used to have a little transistor radio, which was kind of my escape [from] the world. I would wait in anticipation for what the next song was gonna be on the radio. It was really exciting. So, doing this record, I kind of kept thinking about, ‘It’s OK to do a variety of different things here,’ because even if these songs weren’t songs that I were necessarily inspired by, they were around at the time when I decided music was what I wanted to do, and it’s what AM radio was doing at the time too.”
Along with the cover versions, Tracks of My Years features one original new song, called “She Knows Me,” which is the album’s first single. Why put a brand-new song in among the oldies? Adams says, candidly, “Because, according to my manager and according to the record company, it’s very difficult to get cover songs played. So, better to give an original song to kick off the record. And I’m quite happy with that.”
Bryan, who’ll release a 30th anniversary edition of his breakthrough album, Reckless, later this year, says he’s just hoping he doesn’t catch too much flak for Tracks of My Years.
“I hope that I’ve done justice to the tracks, because it was a leap of faith to put myself in this position, ’cause I know I’m opening myself up to rocket fire,” he jokes. “So, you know, I’m trying to keep my head down!”
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