Q&A with accomplished guitar player and songwriter Chris Barron, best known as the lead singer of Spin Doctors

"Music for me is a lifelong pursuit. Singing and guitar playing music itself are so deep and vast. You could never learn everything about it. I’m glad I picked something that I can keep learning about for the rest of my life."

Chris Barron: Pocket Full of Chris Tonite

Chris Barron is an accomplished guitar player and Grammy-nominated songwriter best known as the lead singer of Spin Doctors. He wrote the Billboard Top Ten hits, “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”. Spin Doctors just recorded a new record and hope to have it out Summer of 2025. Chris also released a solo album, "Angels and One-Armed Jugglers" in 2017. His solo performances weave songs and storytelling together with humor and humanity—all Chris Barron trademarks. Barron plays nifty chords on a vintage Gibson, getting songs across with a mastery that comes from a lifetime starting on street corners and journeying through the ins and outs of stardom to the largest stages in the world. His solo acoustic interpretations of Spin Doctors hits combine with a command of songwriting, accomplished guitar playing, and quirky solo material to make a compelling show full of storytelling, virtuoso singing, and raw musical power that is compelling, poignant, extremely amusing, and utterly satisfying.

(Chris Barron / Photo © by Janet Mami Takayama)

Barron has always loved making a song come alive with just a voice and a guitar, and he learned how to do it on street corners, by fountains, and in subways, while still a teenager just trying to make enough for his next meal as a street performer. “I’ve always had this enchantment with the dual ideas of being a badass lead singer/lyricist like Jim Morrison while also being a solitary acoustic singer-songwriter like Bob Dylan or Robert Johnson.” Chris Barron Solo Spin 2024 Spring Tour Itinerary: May 23 (Thu), MIM, Phoenix AZ ; May 24 (Fri), THE HOTEL CAFÉ, Hollywood CA ; May 30 (Thu), ELKTON MUSIC HALL, Elkton MD ; June 14 (Fri), TBA, Youngstown NY.

Interview by Michael Limnios           Special Thanks: Chris Barron & Doug Deutsch

How has the music and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I grew up listening to all of the hippie bands so as a young guy I had long hair and dressed secondhand clothes and kind of had this look like a vagabond which wasn’t a manufactured thing necessarily. I was kind of broke and I used to buy a lot of clothes on the street.

I loved David Bowie and Lou Reed and Mick Jagger so I really embraced that Rock ‘N’ Roll androgynous thing and I used to wear a lot of women’s clothing because I thought it was pretty and just the whole thing of being a lead singer gave me a lot of latitude to push gender stuff in kind of a goofy way which, back then, was a bit of a stretch for people out in the sticks.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? What touched you from the acoustic sound?

I’ve been playing the acoustic guitar since I was eight years old. Guitars as objects have always fascinated me. Used to watch old Gene Autry movies and he’d be on a horse strumming guitar and is a little kid that just knocked me out. I would describe my sound on approach to music is pretty all over the place. I studied jazz at a conservatory in New York City where I met Spin Doctors. I got turned onto the blues by John Popper of Blues Traveler when we were in high school together and I’ve been an absolute blues freak ever since. I don’t really think about music along the lines of genre. For me music kind of an axis of American music that runs from old field songs and fiddle tunes through blues and country to rock ‘n’ roll to swing and ballads on into bebop. I’m not saying I can play all that stuff authentically but I can touch on it not in a superconscious kind of way but more like different shades of color on a pallet.

"I don’t think a ton about the past. I think the musicianship was pretty strong a generation ago. It had to be because we were all recording on tape and there weren’t the kind of editing possibilities that you have now. You really had to be able to play and sing." (Chris Barron / Photo © by Janet M. Takayama)

What moment changed your life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

When I was eight years old my mom insisted that I take guitar lessons so and I did because he was the kind of guy who you couldn’t really say no when he dared you to do something.

Opening up for the Rolling Stones, SNL, David Letterman were all really big.

I have to say that the day-to-day, year to year life experience of just being a musician and working with the guys in my band such great musicians is pretty profound.

How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

I try to stay in good physical condition. I’ve been in therapy with the same therapist for about 22 years. I take voice lessons and guitar lessons.

I’ve always thought about it along the lines of a professional athlete. You don’t get into the NFL or the NBA or something and then say, “cool. I don’t need any coaching anymore.” I think really the further you get along the more coaching you need.

Meditation is pretty clutch, I got to say. I’ve been meditating for almost 10 years now. A lot of people think it’s a big mystery but it’s really just sitting still and paying attention to your breathing and when thoughts come up you just look at them without judging and they sort of magically melt away in the light of your attention (as long as you don’t judge them). It’s important to become intimate with the experience of seeing the voices in your head, thoughts and emotions, as chatter and knowing more and more than there’s something underneath all of that that is just being that is you, the real you.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?                      (Chris Barron / Photo © by Janet M. Takayama)

I don’t think a ton about the past. I think the musicianship was pretty strong a generation ago. It had to be because we were all recording on tape and there weren’t the kind of editing possibilities that you have now. You really had to be able to play and sing.

I think AI is kind of horseshit. I hope they use that to clean up the oceans and not to write songs.

"I don’t really think about music along the lines of genre. For me music kind of an axis of American music that runs from old field songs and fiddle tunes through blues and country to rock ‘n’ roll to swing and ballads on into bebop."

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

I think just making people happy is extremely political. I don’t really think about how my music affects people beyond that. I try to make some stuff that is provocative and and interpret it on their own.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Music for me is a lifelong pursuit. Singing and guitar playing music itself are so deep and vast. You could never learn everything about it. I’m glad I picked something that I can keep learning about for the rest of my life.

Chris Barron - Home

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