The Archives : Bobby Bare Jr. "Young Criminals Starvation League" (2002)

You just keep going back. Those are the records that prove to be the greatest pieces of art, as pretentious as that sounds. I can't count the number of records I raved about at the outset, but just didn't stand the test of time (Flaming Lips? The National?). Bobby Bare Jr.'s brilliant Young Criminals Starvation League may not have made my year-end best-of in 2002, but it's a record that I listen to regularly, and it's slowly becoming one of my favorite records of the past decade.

More than any record I can think of right now, it's unbelievably unique. The stories can be touching at one moment, hilarious the next, and maybe even bizarre. But it works. In "Flat Chested Girl From Maynardville," the girl laments, "No one pays attention to me, so no one knows nothing about me" and later "Does anyone wanna get high with me? Cause no one is watching so no one is worrying about me." It's a sad song, but delivered with some sort of abundance that makes you sing along.

Bare then sings the quite touching "Bullet Through My Teeth," which, seriously, is touching. There's of course "The Monk at the Disco" and "Dig Down," which begins, "This letter is addressed to Mr. Pete Townshend. Hey brother, I write you to say thanks for nothing. Your generation used up all the feelings, and if we rock, it looks like we're ripping you off." There's Bare's homage to Texas, that woman who's "Painting Her fingernails waiting for something to happen" while dreaming of Paul Newman's smile and, of course, the gorgeous opening track, "I'll Be Around."

There are so many emotions throughout this record, and so many moments of sympathy and perhaps empathy, that I'm sure most can relate to something. I mean, he even tells me that "San Francisco rocks and sways. And one day she'll fall into the Bay" before returning to his love for Texas. As much as I love the record Bobby, I'm going to take the risk.


Tim said...

Nice writeup Chris, I agree with you. BBJ's finest hour and a definite keeper from the decade, particularly 2002 which was a wasteland for music.

JASON said...

I love this album. Who is the woman singing with him in "Flat Chested Girl.." and others?