Robbie Fulks

When I was getting ready to interview Buddy Miller recently, I was reading through the bio on his site to see if there was new material or something I didn't already know. I found myself getting more and more engrossed in the style and substance of the bio, not something that normally happens. There were quite a few twenty-five-cent words, and a passion in the prose that was undeniable--not a patently journalistic one, one that was more inside than that. I resisted the temptation to scroll to the bottom and identify the author, and waited till I'd read it all the way through. I was very surprised to find it had been written by a fellow artist, Robbie Fulks. I could not recall having read another bio that was written by an artist, nor could I recall a better bio in the many hundreds that I have read. I said to myself that I had to interview this cat, and get into his music.

I'd heard a lot about him, that he was a very opinionated and outspoken artist. I'd heard of action on the Internet between he and Ryan Adams. Remember the incident in 2002, when at a Nashville Ryan Adams show the performer really freaked out on a guy in the audience who requested "Summer of '69"? [A Bryan Adams song.] After that, allegedly Fulks offered free merchandise to concert goers who would heckle Ryan by requesting Bryan Adams songs. Good stuff.

So I got Robbie's new record in the mail, Georgia Hard, and hunted up some others: Country Love Songs (Bloodshot Records, 1996), Let's Kill Saturday Night (Geffen, 1998) and Couples in Trouble (Boondoggle, 2001), as well as bought some songs from iTunes from South Mouth (1997), 13 Hillbilly Giants (2000, Bloodshot), and a Live e-town CD. (For the sake of completeness, there are also The Very Best of (1999) and a tribute album to Johnny Paycheck that Robbie produced, featuring various huge artists. Saturday Night and Couples were more pop in material and/or production. As impressive as I found these, I was more impressed by and enamored of the Country records, especially the newest one. Georgia Hard is stone Country. He's writing that as well as anybody--as well as Jim Lauderdale, Dallas Wayne, or any traditionalist that would now be called alternative country.

I talked to a few of his good friends in town, he has quite a few for a guy who lives in Chicago. Although he never lived here, he has had writing deals and came here a lot. His frustration with the Music Row ethic and modus operandi was well stated in his notorious Nashville ode "Fuck this Town." He is loved and much respected, and the records quickly taught me why. Robbie is a monster artist, a real individual, a comedian and a character, and a great songwriter of various styles, but especially Country, in my opinion. He is also a great lover of a well-crafted pop song, and in the middle of a country show will bust into a Michael Jackson number without missing a beat.

Please do not fail to check out clips of this incredible dude on the Listen page. Listen to "Wherever There's A Road", "It's Always Raining Somewhere," "Leave It To A Loser," and "Each Night I Try"--if you've got a Country bone in your body, you'll be buying Georgia Hard for sure. continue to interview