Story Behind the Song: The Cadillac Three, ‘Bar Round Here’
"Bar Round Here," the song that opens the Cadillac Three's 2020 album Country Fuzz, is a first for the country trio: It's a shuffle.
Written by TC3's Jaren Johnston and Neil Mason along with hit songwriter Lori McKenna, the song was a quick write while the band was on tour and stopped in McKenna's home state of Massachusetts. Below, the Cadillac Three share the story behind "Bar Round Here," in their own words.
Jaren Johnston: We were in Boston. The bus was parked right outside of the Paradise Rock Club, where we were playing that night.
Lori McKenna lives right outside of town. Her and her husband Gene were coming to the show that night. Whenever we're in Boston, Lori usually comes in that morning, and Gene comes that evening; Lori comes and we write all day. We wrote two songs that day.
"Bar Round Here" was one of those things where I was, like, in the shower or something one day, and I got out of the shower and grabbed my phone real quick and said, [sings] "Well, I sure am thirsty" and then, [sings] "Is there a bar 'round here?" I was originally gonna start the whole song like that, but then it's kinda tough to do that, because you hear that chorus 16 times and it's not as much story and whatever.
So I sang that for them, and we just -- i mean, that song wrote itself in, like, eight minutes, you know? But when i was doing the demo and we were back there, it was so vanilla ...
I remember thinking, "I'm gonna go to the book of Jack: How would Jack White write this as a country-western song, but still make it work for us," you know what I mean? ... So I just started putting -- like, if you notice, in the second verse of that song, it gets off the Chuck Berry thing and it goes to [hums the riff] with the more Jack chords ... and the tone was pretty Jack, too, you know?
It kinda put it in this, I don't know, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly, Hank 3, almost, vibe, and I was like, "This is perfect. This is exactly what I want this to sound like" ...
Kelby Ray: Now that's a damn country song. It's our first shuffle [laughs] ... and the best thing we could try to do is try to throw some country fuzz into a damned old shuffle that's just a good old bar song. You know, the arrangement is just a straight-up shuffle.
It's the first time we had ever recorded something like that, and it's fun to play ... it's just a country song. I immediately think of chicken wire every time I listen to that song [laughs]. I feel like we're in Texas, like, circa 2011, and there's just chicken wire everywhere. That's what that songs makes me think of.
It's a total Blues Brothers, Road House, just -- it's that kinda vibe.
Neil Mason: When it comes to the drum groove of that song, the thing that makes a shuffle interesting for the Cadillac Three is that I've never really played a shuffle, so it's literally just like -- i'm like a 12-year-old kid up there, just going, like, "This is how I play a shuffle. I don't know what's going on here."
I love the feel of a shuffle. I don't necessarily love to play a shuffle because it still feels foreign to me ...
One of my favorite things about this record is that the Lori McKenna cut is gonna be this just, like, rockin' bar song. She's texted me before, and she's been like, "If you guys ever cut that ... that's gonna be my coolest cut that i've ever gotten" ...
I just remember she was just laughing her way through it. There's so many ridiculous lines in that song -- the moosehead and all the stuff -- and I love that.
WATCH: The Cadillac Three Share the Story Behind "Bar Round Here"