By Monica Collier
Posted April 27, 2017
New York-based British singer/songwriter and poet Bobby Long is a wordsmith. His second collection of poetry, “Losing My Mysery,” published in January, and he’s currently touring to support his latest album, “Ode to Thinking”
Long, known for being a versatile talent and engaging folk performer, will be at 116 E. Mobile on Friday night. Tickets are $10, $8 for students, and are available at 116mobile.com or available the night of the show unless it sells out. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 8 p.m.
Long recently took time to answer a few questions by phone.
TimesDaily: Have you been writing poetry since you were 11 years old?
Long: Yes. It was nothing too serious, but as a kid, I was really into this one writer and poet. He’s actually a comedic writer. He used to write these funny little kid’s poems. His name is Spike Milligan. I can’t remember any of them off the top of my head, but they’re all funny. I had that poetry book as a kid so I liked writing those. I was always kind of interested in that, I guess — quietly.
TimesDaily: Did writing come naturally for you even as a young boy?
Long: I wouldn’t say naturally. I just liked the way words look on a page. I like rhyming and everything else.
TmesDaily: Did you also discover music as a young boy?
Long: Yeah, I did. I come from a musical family. My mom forced me to play cello as a kid. I really didn’t want to play it, but she said that it would be a good idea. She would drag me along to her singings — when she did little concerts and stuff like that — I would play guitar.
TimesDaily: What was it that shifted you from writing poetry into writing lyrics and putting them to music?
Long: I love guitar. I just really wanted to play guitar. I'm not much of a sharer, so when I started playing with loads of other people at my school who were also playing guitar and we started making bands — I played in a band for a while — I just couldn’t do it. It was so difficult to get five people in a room and agree on a lyric line or even what kind of music we were going to play. I just had to start writing my own songs. I was about 16 or 17 at the time. I really love writing songs. It’s my favorite thing.
TimesDaily: In addition to being a singer/songwriter, you are a published poet. Do you go into writing lyrics differently from writing a poem?
Long: I’ll either be writing one or the other. I don’t necessarily write a lot of poetry when I’m not writing toward a book. Having the target of a book helps with the discipline of it. When I’m writing an album, that’s when I’m focusing on writing songs.
TimesDaily: As you’ve chosen both being a singer/songwriter and a poet as career paths, has the writing become two different animals?
Long: It’s all about discipline really. I want to get to the fruit, the core, to the goodness, as quickly as possible. If I just constantly splurt, like oh OK, I’m just going to fill up a notebook then decide what goes where — I’m going write a lot of rubbish. If I’m like, OK, I’m writing toward a book now, I’m more concise and I focus on poetry for a month. Or, if I’m going to write an album, I focus on that. I feel like I write better that way. I treat it more like a job, I guess.