At age 53 and with his last No. 1 hit 18 years back in his rear-view, Bryan Adams doesn’t have any illusions.
The Canadian rocker knows exactly what fans are coming to his acoustic concert at Knight Theater Monday to hear: “The songs everyone knows,” said Adams, who mainly has been performing “stripped-down” shows since releasing his “Bare Bones” live album in 2010.
“The most popular songs are the ones that everyone gets off on. Everything else is just you know, they sort of sit through it.”
The 15-time Grammy nominee talked to the Observer last week about the biggest of those hits: 1991’s “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” – how he came up with it, and why it worked.
Q. Can you recall the process of creating that song?
Sure I do. I remember exactly how it happened. We had two weeks off between mixing the final mixes for (the 1991 album) “Waking Up the Neighbors,” and a friend of mine who used to work at my record company was working on a film (1991’s “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”).
He called me and said, “Look, I’ve got 45 minutes of soundtrack here and they need a song. Can you try and cobble something together?” I said, “Sure, send it over.” So they sent it over and I sat down, and I was working with (producer-songwriter Robert John) “Mutt” Lange at the time.
Mutt and I sat and listened to this music that was composed by Michael Kamen, and we took a tiny smidge of it out and re-wrote a bunch of other music that went with it.
I can remember distinctly sitting at the back of the studio with Mutt, and we were just working on words and (going) back and forth and (he) said, “OK, we’ve got a first verse here. Why don’t you sing it back to me?” So I just picked up the guitar and played him the first verse.
I stopped at that point, I looked up at him and he had this smile on his face, and I smiled back. I guess both of us knew right then and there that we’d written something great. I think the whole thing took about 45 minutes.
Q. Wow. That’s pretty amazing.
Usually, the songs that are the biggest hits are the ones that came the quickest. I’d love to have more 45 minutes like that, but they just don’t happen that easily.
Q. But did you know “(Everything I Do)” was going to be a big hit?
I knew it was a good song, and I knew it was definitely going to go on the album, but I had no idea that it was going to be No. 1 for about six months. No idea.
Q. What’s the secret to a great love song?
A lot of the secret of delivering a song like that is how you sing it, and I think the simpler the better. The reason that a song like “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” was such a huge success because even if you don’t speak English, you understand what that means.