Jeff Bridges: An On-Screen Country Singer Enters The Studio Bridges won an Oscar for his portrayal of a country singer in 2009's Crazy Heart. The character was fictional, but Bridges' passion for country is real. In a conversation with Morning Edition, Bridges tells the story behind his new studio album.

Jeff Bridges: An On-Screen Country Singer Enters The Studio

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The actor Jeff Bridges is moving into a job he once had on-screen. By playing a country singer in "Crazy Heart," he explored his own passion for music.

M: The wonderful thing about acting, or one of the great things, is that you can use all of your, you know, talents and interests in your work.

INSKEEP: Now, Bridges has recorded an album with some of the same people who helped him to portray a musician.


M: (Singing) I've been loved, and I've been alone. All my life, I've been a rolling stone. Done everything...

INSKEEP: That's Bridges from the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack. And this is from his new album, called "Jeff Bridges."


M: (Singing) I'm driving my blue car, baby, down from the mountain so high. I'm driving my blue car, baby, coming down, gonna say goodbye.

INSKEEP: You supposedly aspired to be a musician before you were an actor. Is that true?

M: Yeah, probably so. You know, my father, Lloyd Bridges, unlike a lot of actors, really encouraged all his kids to go into showbiz. He loved it so much. And like most kids, you know, you don't want to do what your folks want you to do. You got your own things, you know...

INSKEEP: So if I talked to you when you were 14 or 16 and said what do you plan to do when you get out of here, you'd say I intend to be a musician.

M: Yeah, a musician or artist. I was also interested in painting, and still am. And the acting thing was fun, but, you know, I had some problems with the whole nepotism thing, you know, getting into it just because that's what my dad, you know, I had the inroad.

INSKEEP: Well, that's huge in Hollywood, isn't it? That's just...

M: Oh, that's the toughest thing, you know, about the acting profession, is getting that break. And that was pretty much handled for me. So that road became the one of least resistance. But fortunately, I've kept the music thing going. So I'm happy about that.

INSKEEP: So that's what went horribly, horribly wrong, is movies just went for you first.

M: Horribly, horribly right, I'd have to say.


M: I'm glad I finally got with the old man's program. He was right.


INSKEEP: Bridges' new album grows out of the singing that he did in several films. He sings two songs by the late country musician Stephen Bruton, who worked with him on "Crazy Heart."


M: And we all looked toward Stephen for authenticity, you know, because the life of Bad Blake - the character that I played in "Crazy Heart" - was very much like the life that Stephen led. So he could, you know, he could tell us, you know, hey, yeah, you know, when I'm driving a long time, I don't want to pull over to the side of the road. I've got to get somewhere. So I'll just carry an empty Sparkletts' bottle and, you know, piss in that if I have to.


INSKEEP: Which is an opening scene in "Crazy Heart."

M: That's the opening scene in "Crazy." But that's like, you know, just, you know, one example of the kind of input that he had. But he also, you know, taught me how to play guitar. You know, helped move me out to the next level on my guitar playing, singing and writing songs, you know.


M: (Singing) Take your time, listen to all I'm saying. I've got a hunch that loving you is worth the waiting. I'm going to prove it to you before this night is through. There's a way to turn your pain right into pleasure. Drastic times seem to call for drastic measures. You need to know, girl, I can fix you if the remedy is tried and true...

INSKEEP: What was it like writing your own music for this release?

M: Well, some of the songs are from quite long ago. "Falling Short" is, oh gosh, it might - could be 30 years old. You know? Forty years old, I don't know. Something like that. But it still sort of applies to me.

INSKEEP: Let's listen to a little bit of that.


M: (Singing) Am I falling short, or do I fly? While I miss the mark, do I hit the sky? In my wondering, do I answer why I'm alive?

INSKEEP: What did you mean when you said that song applies to you in some way?

M: Oh, you know, I find that I'm pretty critical of myself, as far as reaching some sort of a perfect bull's-eye or target that I'm aiming for, you know. And sometimes, you can get so obsessed with that bull's-eye that you miss the whole deal, you know, because you're just so focused on what you think is perfection, that you miss what really is perfection, which is just being alive, you know.

INSKEEP: You want to, you're just saying, dodge the wrath of myself and leave the math to God?

M: Yeah. Yeah.


M: (Singing) the wrath of myself and leave the math to God.

INSKEEP: Has it occurred to you the last couple of years that if you'd been a little more stubborn, if you'd insisted a little more on your own way, if you could've ended up being a little bit like the character that you played in "Crazy Heart"? You know, somebody whose name is known, but not that famous and driving around, driving himself from venue to venue, singing songs where he could get work.

M: Yeah. Yeah. Go on.

INSKEEP: I'm just wondering...

M: Do I fantasize about if I'd taken that path?

INSKEEP: No. No. No. Does it occur to - no, I don't know about fantasizing - whether you've wondered about that could've been your life?

M: Yeah. I don't how long I would be alive if that was my life. I don't know. I think it worked out just right.


M: You know, I'm really happy the way it worked out. You know, life is having its way with me now. It's - and I'm, you know, really pleased, because I'm getting to, now, kind of shift gears, now that, you know, this last year, I decided to put the acting aside and concentrate on my music. And that has felt really refreshing and good.

INSKEEP: Well, Jeff Bridges, thanks very much. I've enjoyed this.

M: Nice hanging with you, man.


M: (Singing) You can have a mansion...

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

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