Bryan Adams Discusses New Album ‘Tracks Of My Years,’ Miley Cyrus And Two Forgotten Decades


By Alex M. Smith
Sep 30, 2014 12:01 PM EDT

Bryan Adams had such an obsessive work ethic early in his career that he’s forgotten entire stretches of the ’80s and ’90s.
“I wish I could be kidding you,” he said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. “But I don’t actually remember a lot of my career.”
The Canadian singer, responsible for several Top 10 hits including “Summer of ’69” and “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” blames the “volume of work” he went through for his memory loss.

He definitely remembers the ’70s, though. That’s the era from which he culled 12 cover songs for his new album, Tracks of My Years (out Tuesday). The tracklist includes re-imagined songs written by Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and The Beatles.
We caught up with the 54-year-old to talk about the new disc, the few things he can still recall from his heyday and Miley Cyrus, among other topics.
You’ve got a big day tomorrow. What’s it like to wake up on the morning of an album release?
I think it’s pretty good. I’m grateful that it’s coming out, and it should be kind of fun, I think.

I kind of remember releasing Reckless, because it was near my birthday in 1984. But I don’t remember the morning of it. I kind of remember the anticipation because I was really excited about the release of the song “Run To You.” I had a feeling that the track would really do something, and it did pretty good.
What was it like to promote a record back then? What else do you remember about that day?
I don’t actually remember a lot of my career. It’s not that I have some sort of amnesia or something, or that I’m suffering from memory loss. It’s just the volume of work that went on between 1983 and 1999 was so intense that there are great waves of my life that I just don’t remember.
Someone will say, ‘Oh, yeah! I saw you at Birmingham in 1987. Do you remember that gig?’ I’m like, ‘I know I played Birmingham sometime. But don’t ask me anything about the gig or what it was, because I don’t remember.’
I always get, ‘I saw you when you opened for Journey.’ I hardly remember that because there were so many gigs.

Did you make a conscious effort in ’99 to pull yourself away from that?
Yeah. I stopped touring like that. There’s no point. It was just work at that point. Now I work differently; I do 10 shows a month as opposed to never going home.
What can fans expect as we get into your run of fall shows? How does the structure of the show work?
In October, I’m doing some Bare Bones [Tour] shows, which is kind of like a presentation of songs from the past 30 years acoustically. Then come November, I’m gearing up the band again, and we’re gonna go out and do a 30th anniversary Reckless Tour. It should be good. I’m looking forward to it.
What are some of the pros and cons of having the band there vs. playing by yourself?

It takes a little more courage. It’s not easy just to walk up there and do it. But I’ve gotten pretty good at it now. I’ve done six years of it. I think I’ve got it kind of figured out now.
Tracks of My Years seems like a fun project; you got to go back and try out a bunch of old songs you love. But how hard was it to make some of these choices?
It was a hard record to make because it’s really hard to choose songs. In my humble opinion, a lot of songs are so sacrosanct they’re untouchable. Especially the songs that really were the influences in my career. I just chose stuff that was sort of around the same time when I first decided music was what I wanted to do. I chose songs that were on the radio at the same time.
Instead of doing “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, I would do something else. It’d be silly of me to do that song. How can you beat that? You can’t. I just chose songs that were great songs; not necessarily songs that I would’ve bought, even, but they stuck in my memory.
Back in the day in the ’70s, radio didn’t really play songs based on categories. They’d play songs if it was a great song. So you get a mix of country and rock and R&B. It was a good time for music, really — certainly inspiring for me.
So when it came time to choose the songs, it was just a matter of going through all those amazing songs and seeing which ones sounded right. They sort of had to sound like me.

Obviously, you’re not writing the lyrics, but you had to rewrite a little bit of the music. How does that process work as opposed to new material you create?
Well, you just give it your best shot. Sometimes I get to the end of recording a song, and say, ‘You know what? This is just sounding too much like the original. There’s no point in doing that. Let’s go back and do something else.’ A lot of time in the studio was kind of wasted because we were just trying stuff all the time.
Verve Records’ criteria was that the songs had to be Top 10 hits on Billboard, otherwise we’re not recording them. So at least for the first 11 songs on the record, I had to do familiar songs. At the end of the day before the album came out, I snuck a few other ones in there. “C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran. I don’t know if that was Top 10. “You Shook Me” by Muddy Waters. I put some other stuff in there to rock up the album a little bit.

There were two different producers on the record besides myself, Bob Rock and David Foster. This is really David’s thing. He likes making records like this. He can just buzz through a bunch of songs that are hits and he makes people enjoy it. He says, “Just give it a try and see what happens.” A couple years later we finished the album.

When it came time to choose an album cover, I decided I wanted to have a photo of me when I was a youngster. I wanted to put a picture on there that was indicative of the time when I figured out music was what I wanted to do. As you can tell from that picture, I was kind of into hard rock. And I never looked back.
The only thing about having hair that long was, it was hard to get a job. So eventually I had to get it cut, which was a drag.
Looking back to that era: Do you think kids are still saving up money for guitars and playing in the basement?
No. I think people are saving up for iPhones. I don’t think the drive to be a musician is anywhere near what it used to be. But I could be wrong, because, apparently, people are making more music now than they ever have. But I don’t hear it in the same way.
Are there any younger artists that have caught your eye?

I hear songs once in a while that stand out. I heard a song the other day… [singing] “I’m all about that bass / About that bass.” That kind of reminds me of something The Shirelles would’ve done, you know?
Actually, you know what, I really like that song by Miley Cyrus, too. “Wrecking Ball.” I love that song. It’s amazing. I wish I’d written that song.
What about “Wrecking Ball” struck you?
I just thought it was a good chorus. She’s hot too, man. She’s so hot. Give me a break. For an old soldier like me. It’s pretty amazing. [Geezer voice] ‘Wouldn’t have done that in my day, let me tell you.’

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Source: Bryan Adams Discusses New Album ‘Tracks Of My Years,’ Miley Cyrus And Two Forgotten Decades : Genres : Music Times.

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