NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Bobby Bare returned to RCA Studio B 50 years after he began his career there, he was afflicted with an off-kilter case of deja vu.
There was a sense of familiarity for the 77-year-old country singer, but things also were out of place as he recorded "Darker Than Light," his first album since 2005.
"I saw Chet Atkins there everywhere I turned," Bare said. "And the studio, like for instance, Floyd (Cramer) used to sit with his back to the wall while he played the piano. Well, the piano is turned around now. That's not right. I knew exactly where everybody sat. ... You get flashbacks."
Bare made a new batch of memories returning to the famed Nashville studio decades after he cut most of his biggest hits there, starting in 1962. Bare signed up Buddy Miller to produce the new album, out last week. Miller brought in a handful of cohorts from his Band of Joy project with Robert Plant and added Randy Scruggs to round out things.
"Buddy knows how to get that feel out of the musicians," Bare said. "It was just a great feel. You'd start a song and it just felt good. He's the best. Reminds me of Chet because Chet would get the great musicians together and they knew what he wanted. They played it the way Chet wanted it done and it was always great. They respected him. Same way with Buddy Miller."
The collaboration produced an album of Bare's favorite folk songs, including works by Bob Dylan, Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. There are also a few surprises, like U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
"That's a great song," Bare said. "It's a straight-out country song, really. It's got the same chords, the same keys. There's a jillion country hits with the same chord changes. That's a country song."