The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Currents

July 18, 2014

After 40 years, George Thorogood still "Bad to the Bone"

Says he has no plans to new album; Just wants to play live

— Turns out, you’ve got George Thorogood all wrong. If you thought the man famous for such diddys as “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “I Drink Alone” was a one-dimensional drinking song kind of dude, he’s ready to set you straight.

“I’m not the one embracing a total drinking situation. That’s purely coincidental,” Thorogood said a few weeks ago during a stop on his 40th anniversary tour. “I’ve written only two songs in my life about drinking. Recorded three. ... James Cagney did ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,’ and won an academy award. But people know him as the guy who shoots cops. Brian Wilson doesn’t surf. Never owned a surf board in his life. And he’s not real big on cars. Listen to Chuck Berry’s material. He’s more of an observer. Bob Dylan did that, too.”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers roll into town this weekend for a Sunday show at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater in Mankato’s Riverfront Park.

He’s in the middle a U.S. tour in which, he says, the crowds have embraced his band and his music as fervently as any tour he’s ever done. And when that tour swings through Minnesota, he’s expecting big things.

The Minnesota crowd, it seems, has a bit of a reputation to Thorogood and his band.

“In Minnesota, it’s almost like we could be a house band there,” he said. “We used to play the Cabooze, the zoo, the Lucky 7 in Hinckley. We’d have a great turnout there.”

He was approached once several years ago by a Minnesota fan who informed him a Minnesota radio station had been playing Thorogood’s album Move It On Over cover to cover.

“Only in Minnesota have I ever heard of that happening,” he said.

Thorogood may be coming to the summer home of the Minnesota Vikings, but he’ll probably be more interested in the Twins.

A lifelong baseball fan, Thorogood follows the Mets. Why?

“Because the Mets epitomize mediocrity, which is what we all struggle to get out of,” he said. “You know, it’s common person walking down the street. You know, like TV shows. ‘All in the Family,’ ‘The Honeymooners,’ ‘Roseanne.’ Common people, people who didn’t make the football team, people who didn’t get asked to prom.”

That common-man feeling is what draws him to songs such as “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.”

“That song is like street theater,” he said.

Thorogood plans a performance not unlike every other one he’s ever given.

When asked if he feels compelled to make sure everyone goes home amazed, he brushed that idea off. He says he tries to be in the moment when he’s on stage, but he’s really only there to do what he’s been doing for 40 years.

“I met Joe Dimaggio once. Can you imagine that? We chatted for two hours,” Thorogood said. “He said, ‘George you only owe the audience one thing.’ I said ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Your best.’”

So when he’s firing off the opening guitar notes to “Bad To the Bone” for the millionth time, he’s come up with his own way to keep it fresh, especially for crowds such as Mankato.

“It’s an audience I’ve never played before, it’s a new experience for both of us,” he said. “And besides, it’s live entertainment. That’s what the destroyers are all about.”

As for his future, Thorogood says he’s at an age now where new albums and new material might be a thing of the past. It takes a lot of energy and creativity to come up with enough new material to make an album. Plus, he said, it takes him a year to a year and a half to make an album.

He’d rather spend that time connecting with his fans face to face.

“Our statement’s been made,” he said. “People don’t want to hear anything new from me, so we’ve made a decision to play live.”

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