Songwriter, singer, guitarist and radio personality Randy Bachman, whose talents brought both the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) to enduring fame, has just released Every Song Tells a Story, a retrospective CD/DVD which chronicles his journey from his musical childhood to present day. It’s an interesting trip incorporating 14 songs, 13 of which most of us know well.
The DVD gives us a short history lesson on Bachman’s musical journey, and context for the people who love “American Woman” or “Taking Care of Business” because the song is a part of their lives. “Every Song Tells a Story is a timeline of my life and the songs I wrote for the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive,” Bachman said. “I tell the story sitting on stage and the band kicks into the song, just like the record.” Behind Bachman, archival photos culled from his scrapbooks provide a visual timeline of changing haircuts, clothes and cars, in San Francisco and Winnipeg, sunlight and blizzards.
On Bachman’s radio show, Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap, he spins records and talks with people about the music for two hours every Saturday night. Every Song Tells a Story is a personal extension of that concept, and the DVD is the next natural step. Recorded near the end of his 2013 tour, everybody had all their parts down, the lights were good and the sound was good, so the video really clicked.
Bachman has been doing some version of this show, off and on, for ten years. “I’d do it for a little while and then I’d go back to playing rock ‘n’ roll, and once in a while someone would come and say we heard about this−you wanna come and tell the stories to help a charity?” Bachman said. “I’m happy I’m recycling my songs again.”
Every Song Tells a Story was released first in Canada; after the US release today, it will go to the UK, the EU and Australia. As a businessman, Bachman noted that the fact that the product includes a DVD and not only a CD makes a difference to the bottom line, and to how the artist feels about being rewarded for his work: “You can’t bootleg a DVD and send it out like you can a CD and send out songs people can download for free, so it’s amazing to actually sell products and actually get paid for it,” Bachman pointed out. “To give someone $20 on the street who needs money, or to have somebody steal $20 from your pocket, is totally different.”
Intelligent and genial, Bachman comes across well in the video, filmed in one night at Pantages Playhouse Theatre in Winnipeg. Refreshingly, he neither swaggers nor downplays his success as he sings and tells his tale. The opening track, “Prairie Town,” which Bachman describes as the lone “non-hit” in the set, describes his foundation as both a musician and a man, in rural Canada. “That song was important because it included [fellow Canadian] Neil Young and my ongoing friendship with him,” Bachman said. “He influenced me in the Guess Who and BTO, he helped me get a record deal, and he influenced me in my next project, a blues album, coming up next year.”
Bachman is on a tightly scheduled tour for the rest of the month, including dates with his own band (who will also be on the road again in October), dates with Fred Turner and dates with Peter Frampton and Buddy Guy (8/26, 8/27 and 8/29).
After that? “Then I’m going to a rest home for a week to breathe through an oxygen tank.”
– Suzanne Cadgene