When Bob Dylan praised Bobby Vee during his performance this summer at Midway Stadium -- right before covering Vee's first hit single, "Suzie Baby" -- it was significant for a couple of reasons. First of all, Dylan rarely says that much during his live shows, so anything that he does offer up on stage takes on an added significance. And Dylan's heartfelt admiration of Bobby Vee hopefully introduced many music fans in the sold-out audience to the talents and legend of an oft-overlooked musician who helped Dylan get his start.
On February 3, Vee is set to release a new collection of original and cover songs that he recorded with his family in his garage in Tucson, Arizona, called The Adobe Sessions. The 18-song collection will feature some original material along with some covers of artists who have influenced Vee.
See Also: Bob Dylan at Midway Stadium, 7/10/13
Vee was born Rober Velline in Fargo, North Dakota in 1943, and now the venerable pop singer/songwriter currently resides just outside St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he is struggling through the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's, an illness which caused him to officially retire from music in 2011. But getting back to playing music again and recording these songs with Vee's family proudly by his side proved to be a form of catharsis for everyone involved.
"Making the album was really like therapy for all of us," says Vee. "If they feel a bit like campfire songs, done one more time, for us and for the ages, I think that's what we were after. It's our family's time capsule record."
The album features Vee covering some well-known material from a few of his favorite artists, like Townes Van Zandt, Gordon Lightfoot, Don Williams, Carole King, Daniel Lanois, Hank Williams, Rick Nelson, Fats Waller, and Bob Dylan himself, with Vee tackling the tender New Morning classic, "The Man In Me."
The Adobe Sessions were definitely a family affair for Vee, as his sons, daughter, and grandson all took an active role in the writing and recording process. "It was good for dad and helped all of us really," says Jeff Vee. "Gathering family around this creative person and helping him continue to create his special magic, that really was the mission. And he brought it!"
Jeff played drums and produced The Adobe Sessions, along with his two brothers, Robby (guitar) and Tommy (bass). Vee's daughter Jenny wrote some of the lyrics, his son-in-law Barron added various instruments, and drumming prodigy grandson Bennett Vee is also featured.
In 1959, following the tragic death of Buddy Holly, a then 15-year-old Bobby Vee and his band the Shadows were asked to fill in at Holly's next scheduled gig in Fargo-Moorhead, an opportunity that propelled Vee and his band to early stardom. Vee then briefly hired a young Bob Dylan to play piano in his band, giving the young Hibbing musician one of his earliest tastes of stardom, a gesture that Dylan clearly still appreciates.
Said Bob during his St. Paul show this past summer: "I lived here a while back, and since that time I've played all over the world, with all kinds of people. Everybody from Mick Jagger to Madonna and everybody in between. But the most beautiful person I've ever been on the stage with was a man who's here tonight, who used to sing a song called 'Suzie Baby.' Bobby Vee is actually here tonight. Maybe you could show your appreciation with just a round of applause. We're gonna do this song, like I've done it with him before once or twice."
"It was genuine," Vee smiles as he recollects the event. "...just absolutely wonderful."
And indeed it's absolutely wonderful to hear Vee playing and recording again, as this stellar, heartfelt collection captures a legendary artist who is still clearly moved by the muse and the music, delivering another strong collection of hits that highlight the songs that have stirred him over the years.
Here's the cover art and full tracklisting for Bobby Vee's The Adobe Sessions:
1. Tucson Girl
3. Old Love Letters
4. I'm Just A Country Boy
5. The Man In Me
6. Save the Last Dance for Me
7. I Like It Like That
8. In My Baby's Eyes
9. I Gotta Know
10. Never Be Anyone Else
11. If I Needed You
12. Since I Met You Baby
13. Window Shopping Half
14. Fix Her Up
15. Father To His Son
16. The Maker
17. Love Must Have Passed Me
18. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down...