Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Catching Up with Chris Barron
Chris Barron may not be a household name but twenty years ago his music permeated radio airplay and video television every few minutes. As front man for the popular band Spin Doctors Barron shot to superstardom in his mid-twenties. He wrote the band’s most popular hits including “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and enjoyed the rock star lifestyle.
Now, two decades later, Barron is in peak form. Physically fit, trim, and effervescent, he is involved in myriad projects that turn him on and feed his musical passions. I was fortunate to catch up with Barron at a local venue in my native New Jersey, the Salt Gastropub. Barron has played the venue four times and is happy entertaining in the intimate setting. Living in Manhattan the fifty minute drive west to Salt provides Barron with a small, involved audience that truly appreciates his music and allows him to narrate the show using his effortless stream-of-consciousness.
Barron is witty, funny, and so very talented. He brought a mix of his classic Spin Doctors favorites like “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” off of their Pocket Full of Kryptonite album that had gone 5 times Platinum and his more recent solo work. Numbers like “Sometimes It’s Tiring to Be Me” and “All I Know Is I Love You” showed a grown up, mature, and evolving songwriter who is mastering his craft.
“I’m a better lyricist now,” Barron relayed to me. “It is a knack, a craft like cabinet building. I know how to choose the right knobs, make the drawers slide just right so they glide smoothly.” And improve he has although he started on a very high plane to begin.
“My stepmother thought I’d be a songwriting janitor,” Barron said more matter-of-factly than bitterly. Clearly their strained relationship had a strong impact on Barron’s life. In fact, one of his biggest hits, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”, was not about “an ex-girlfriend or an ex-wife, and Lord knows there have been a lot of them. It was written about my dad’s wife.” In an ironic twist, the woman became his ex-step-mom at the time Barron and the Spin Doctors were shooting up the charts with the song he had written about her.
Music entered Barron’s life when he was exposed to it by an uncle who owned a jazz club from 1952-1973. That exposure along with an introduction to poetry by friend and “terrific director” Chris Anderson during his freshmen year of high school spurred Barron to become a writer. Barron told me, “Chris introduced me to e.e. cummings!” Poetry, journaling, and learning chords on the guitar led to writing lyrics and working with talented musicians in Princeton, NJ where he went to school.
Among the student body were talents named John Popper, Chan Kinchla, Bobby Sheehan, and Brendan Hill – the original members of popular and successful band Blues Traveler. The Blues Traveler front man Popper and Barron have been friends since high school. “I was actually a member of Blues Traveler in high school. But it was Popper’s band and we’re two front men and that doesn’t work so I got kicked out. We’re still really good friends.” The two text one another “all of the time”.
No matter how many famous people Barron has met and hangs out with, he’s still much grounded. Where many young stars blew their fortunes on drugs, booze, and women, Barron knew that he needed to keep a strong foundation and solid roots to stay with his feet firmly on the ground. “Well,” Barron recalled, “maybe my feet weren’t firmly on the ground, but I knew that they should be.” Barron told me, “I realized pretty quickly if this stuff turned you into a douche then you’ve lost the game.”
Barron’s life is a testament to his sheer determination to learn new things, conquer some demons, live his best life, and have fun along the way. He is, by all means, a regular guy who just happens to be a successful songwriter, happily married to a lovely and talented Broadway starlet, father to a neat 13-year-old daughter who is a visual artist, and an all-around great guy.
“Life,” Barron explained his philosophy, “is a series of hurdles. You can’t expect the world to freeze in your heyday.” Barron said he feels sorry for people who reminisce solely about the good ol’ days in high school and who peaked then. “We live to be 100 years old. You have to be dynamic, a well-rounded person. You have to appreciate what you have.”
“Love-wise I am in my heyday now.” Barron married the adorable, talented, intelligent, and friendly Broadway actress Lindsay Nicole Chambers on Valentine’s Day of this year.
“Raising my 13-year-old daughter is a freakin’ heyday!”
Take some time to rediscover the upbeat, infectious sounds of the Spin Doctors from twenty years ago, but also see what they are up to when their next record drops in 2013. That one is called If the River Was Whiskey and rekindles the band’s love of the blues. Blues heavily influenced the Spin Doctors before Pocket Full of Kyrptonite premiered in 1991.
Barron also has another solo album coming out entitled If I Stop Laughing I’ll Cry.
Between working with the Spin Doctors, writing solo projects, touring with his Norwegian band The Canoes, and touring throughout the States, Barron is constantly on the move. He seems supremely happy, has endless sources for material to create his music, and a family that makes him soar.
In a word, Chris Barron is dynamic.
Candice Smith is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™ Chatter. Her works have been featured under the pen name Chief 187™ around the Internet including a syndicated post within the Indie Republic Network where she has conducted in-depth interviews with musicians, Mixed Martial Artists, and other personalities as well as waxes poetic on myriad topics.
Smith is currently writing her second season of her original column “Why I Love NASCAR” by Chief 187™ on Skirts and Scuffs.
Additionally, another of her NASCAR columns can be found at MotorsportsUnplugged.com. Smith also contributes articles and NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Recaps weekly at WowShaneRadio.com.
Smith began her Internet writing career at Rowdy.com where she honed her blogging skills and reawakened her love of NASCAR.
Smith can be heard throughout the week co-hosting motorsports programs on Internet radio. She is the guest co-host of Motorsports Unplugged Radio with Michele Rahal, co-host of “Burning Rubber Radio” as well as creator and host of her own racing show “Drafting the Circuits” on WhooBazoo.com. “Drafting the Circuits” and “Burning Rubber Radio” are rebroadcast on Performance Motorsports Network every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
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Posted by Chief 187 at 4:30 AM