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Interview with Bebo Norman

September 2003


Bebo Norman and Kim Jones

Bebo Norman and Kim Jones with Bebo's road manager Logan

Kim Jones
Bebo Norman came home to Columbus, GA to do a concert on September 5th and I got a chance to talk to him and see him perform. He is a great guy and an awesome performer and my husband/photographer and I both really enjoyed the time we got to spend with him.

Kim - You just started your tour.

Bebo - Yeah, we started in California and then played Vegas before coming here. We're touring pretty differently now, which is nice. I'm trying to set myself to be home more instead of being gone. For basically the last seven and a half years I've been gone nonstop. So I'm basically doing all fly dates which is great. I'm just taking a couple of players with me and keeping it real simple. I fly out on Thursday mornings and play Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then I fly back home to Nashville on Monday morning. So I'm home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kim - It's more of a "real life" than you get when you're on the road full time for weeks at a time.

Bebo - Exactly. That's craziness. We used to do insane, long tours.

Kim - If my math is right you're creeping up on 30 now...

Bebo - Oh I'm 30 ... I'm 30 solid. I turned 30 this summer. It's a good thing. Getting older doesn't bother me, not even a little bit, which is kind of strange. Maybe it will catch up with me at some point. But I feel like every season of my life has been better than the last one. It's been one of those things that makes me look forward to what's next.

Kim - It's almost like your albums have been seasonal as well in terms of growth. That, of course, leads to the next obvious question which is what is next for you? Myself When I Am Real came out last year, so is it time?

Bebo - I guess it has been a year this month, almost to the day since it came out on September 10th. I haven't gotten ready to go back into the studio yet and I probably should. The label is talking about me going into the studio again sometime next spring. I took the whole summer off and basically just took a break from music. I played three shows all summer long, one in June, one in July and one in August which is completely abnormal for what I am used to doing. I didn't have any plans to write. I was just like, if anything happens, it happens. I didn't write a thing. I only picked up my guitar when I went and played those shows. It was necessary in a huge way to kind of step back and regroup a little bit. It was a beautiful thing. I don't know. I guess I should start thinking about writing some songs here before long. We'll see what happens.

Brian - Do you find that taking breaks like that from work gives you a fresh perspective when you come back to it?

Bebo - I think it can. Usually the way song writing works for me is that I have ideas randomly and I'll record them on a little hand-held recorder that I take with me places. I mean, I can have them driving in the car ... Usually if I try to sit down and say "OK, I'm going to write a song today" nothing really happens. For me it's just a matter of perspective and it takes time for God to put me into a place where I really settle into a perspective where I can even consider writing. So the way it tends to work is I'll take those ideas and I'll sit down and have to be deliberate with them. I'll say "OK, what can I do with this at this point?" That's kind of my process. The weird thing was that this summer I was separated from any sense of playing shows or traveling. I was engulfed in being home. I built a new deck on the back of my house and I worked in my yard. I have an old '76 Ford Bronco that I've been working on and I worked on that. I'm building a new fence. Basically I worked outside every day and I didn't even think about it. I didn't even think about ideas. I just thought about being with the people that I was with at home, which are the people that I feel like genuinely know me and that I honestly really want to invest in. So it was really a beautiful thing to be able to do that and to just back away from everything. Strangely enough no ideas really happened. It's kind of one of those things where it's just a matter of timing. That's why it's always hard when you have people that create a sense of timing for you. They say "we want a record next fall" or whatever, which would be the natural thing to do. But who knows if that will happen. I don't really feel that pressure right now, but we'll see if I do.

Kim - One of the first pieces that I did for About was a profile on you. You know, that whole hometown boy made it big thing. When I looked at interviews that you did over the past year or two and pieces that you wrote, it seemed like their was a constant thread on you being single. If I had to lay money on it I would say that you're no longer single after seeing the blonde lady in here earlier. But if you don't want to go into your personal life, I won't push it.

Bebo - I probably won't go into incredible detail, but we've been dating for over a year. Actually a year and two months. It was kind of ironic. Since I started playing music, I've been on the road so much that I've had a couple of random friends but never any significant relationships. Mostly just because I just wasn't at a place where I think I had the capacity for it. I was just so interested in playing music and being on the road and investing in that. I think I missed it. I think there are times where there's obvious loneliness and times where you feel distance from people and you wish there was some consistency. My life, up to this point, has been so inconsistent. Over the last couple of years it generated more and more attention, for some odd reason, that it was like "this is the spokesperson for single people." I was like, yeah, I'm not that interested in being the spokesperson for single people.

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