By Julie Seabaugh
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First things first: Yes, Bobby Long's tune "Let Me Sign" (which he cowrote with pal Marcus Foster) is in the tween movie phenomenon Twilight, and it's sung by Long pal/sparkly vampire hunk Robert Pattinson. But the singer-songwriter and London resident is poised to transcend that novelty tag.
He recently received his college degree after writing 12,000 words on what he describes as the "social impact of folk music and the protest song in the '60s," while his first collection of music, Dirty Pond Songs, reveals the influences of that era's greats: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie. Centered around plaintive, folky guitars and Long's voice, Songs is quiet, introspective and wise beyond its years. Although a bit tired from an early-morning appearance on Good Morning Texas, the affable Long was eager to discuss Chuck Berry (he's a huge fan), his roots and his own music.
B-Sides: You've always had music in your life, but was there any sort of moment where you were like, 'I have to do this!'?
Bobby Long: I was always surrounded with it. My mum used to sing, and I used to get dragged around to her shows and stuff. I started playing guitar, and then from that moment on, there was not one day when I haven't thought about playing guitar or writing or something. It took over, like a kind of disease almost.
What's been the biggest challenge for you, as you've translated your music from your bedroom and open-mic nights to clubs?
It's always a challenge to yourself, 'cause you have certain heights you have to hit each time. And you have to do the best for the song. Open mics, you don't have to deal with a room of people and how to go about involving them, in a way. Especially when it's just an acoustic performance. That's been the hardest thing — just making people listen and get what you're doing.
I've been to so many acoustic performances where people are rude.
It's a weird thing, though. People get more annoyed with that than I do. For me, if people are talking through me, you have to work a little bit harder. You can't force people to be quiet. I don't get annoyed when people talk. They're either missing out or don't get it. That's up to them. It's just nice to see people there.