John Brannen can lay claim to being a part of one of the most unique marketing pushes in country music history. In the spring of 1993, he was part of a promotion by Mercury Records called the Triple Play Tour. The label sent Brannen, along with two other new artists, out to TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. in an attempt to break all three. The other two artists on the bill, Toby Keith and Shania Twain, both became breakthrough acts and became superstars within a few years. Though Brannen didn’t have the explosive career that they had, he has nothing but fond memories of the tour.
“It was crazy fun,” he recalls of the Triple Play Tour. “For all three of us, it was something that we had never experienced. Whatever we had gone through as artists individually, being combined with two others, and doing that sort of blitz. They would send us out, and start at 5:30 in the morning at a television station. We would go all day into the night, and we’d get back on the bus and go to the next city. Then we would swing back through on another bus with the band on it, and we’d play shows in all of those towns. So, it was a lot of fun, a hectic pace, but we had a good time.”
Over the years, the native of Savannah, Georgia has carved out a successful career as a performer, and as a songwriter. His song “Somebody” was recorded by the Eagles on their double-platinum CD Long Road Out Of Eden, and his subsequent musical projects have all been well-received by both fans and critics alike. He has been compared to such musical heavyweights as Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne. His new album, Bravado, has just hit the market, and it’s one that he is very excited to get out to the public.
“Twilight Tattoo was out two and a half years ago,” he says of his last project for independent Sly Dog Records. Bravado is a lot of stories about Middle America and the disappearing middle class, and the romantic struggles that we are all going through. Then, there are a few things that are upbeat and fun. The title of the record is Raised A Rebel. I’m poking a little fun to those who poke fun at us from the south, but there’s a spirit, I think, in people all around the world, of liking the rebel in you. There’s some more serious issues, too. There’s a song that addresses the expectant room in Iraq, where they take the soldiers that are dying, so there’s some darkness there, but on other songs, there’s happiness, a little romance, and a lot about the struggles that we’re going through.”
One song that many listeners can identify with is “Still In The Game.” Of the track, he says that “It’s the anthem of people in America today, being the story of the spirit prevailing against all odds. I think it’s a story that’s in a lot of people’s hearts and minds with the difficulties that we’ve been experiencing here. It’s really hit home in our country with factories and jobs. It’s just the story of every man who is trying to hang on in this ever-changing word. It keeps changing faster and faster.”
Overall, the songs on Bravado deal with surviving life’s curve balls, and simply getting by. “It’s a record about survival,” he admits, “and putting the best face on desperate times, accepting tragedy and loss, but moving forward with a glimmer of hope and mystery. It deals with the struggles that most of us are going through in terms of trying to hold on to a place where we feel safe. The essential definition of bravado is pretended courage, and all of these songs are, I think, reflecting who are trying to exhibit some kind of desperate bravery.”
He offers fans something rare on Bravado—a cover. He tips the musical hat to the late Gram Parsons with his take on “Hickory Wind.” The song takes him back to another time. “I can remember where I was standing when I first heard Gram Parsons with the Byrds on Sweethearts Of The Rodeo,” he recalls, alluding to the classic 1968 album. “That record kind of opened up a connection to country and a large spectrum of other music that wasn’t open to me before.”
There have been many changes in the marketing of music since those days. Of course, the Byrds album was released originally on vinyl. Since then, the music world has seen reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette, CDs and now we live in the digital world. That’s a lot of change, Brannen admits, but if the music is handled the right way, it doesn’t change the affect of it. “I think as long as you don’t lose quality sonically, then any new form to transfer music is fabulous,” he says. “If you beam it from your watch to another person across the room, then I think that’s great—as long as it still sounds good.”
He is quick to say the technology has improved greatly—just in the past few years. “There was a point when digital first became popular, that they hadn’t perfected it to a point where the sonics were complete. I think we’ve gotten beyond that now, and it’s sometimes hard to tell great analog from great digital.”
Besides the release of Bravado, Brannen is set to appear in an upcoming film (the soundtrack will feature songs from his latest album). “The movie is called Black Dove, and I am going to have a pretty substantial role in it, which will be a first for me. It’s going to have a lot of music from the new record in it. It’s the story of a guy who is about to be a star, but winds up in prison, and he has to go on a search for the man who was responsible for his career. In the process, he runs into all the people who didn’t want him to get out of jail. We follow his life as everybody is trying to stop him or kill him.”
It sounds like a grim role, though Brannen says he tried to land a few breaks for his character. “I said to the director and the writer, ‘You know, I’m getting beat up a lot in this movie. Can’t you make it so I’m more of a hero?’”
Between the movie and Bravado, it appears that 2010 is going to be a big year for the singer. For his part, he’s happy to have some new music for his fans. “This is a jagged record sonically,” he says. “It’s raw. It’s conversational. I never set out to create art. I set out to try to identify emotions, and if all goes well, something emerges that hasn’t been apparent. It’s something like throwing a sheet over a ghost, and finally the ghost has a form—something we would not have seen otherwise!”
Fuente: LimeWire Music Blog