After 17 years of marriage (and about the same number of solo albums between the two), husband and wife Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis finally teamed up on 2013’s critically acclaimed Cheater’s Game. The experience was so refreshing that alt-country’s cutest couple wasted no time releasing a follow-up, Our Year, which dropped in May.
Fresh off the release of the album, Bruce talked to Rolling Stone Country about the debut of their new video of the late Walter Hyatt’s tribute to Detroit: “Motor City Man.”
Why did you decide to include “Motor City Man” on your new album?
I’m always so excited to find something that isn’t a love song — I’m heartbroken, the person left, I just found someone— those same themes you just hear over and over again. Occasionally, there’s a song like “Motor City Man” that tells an entirely new story, and it’s so compelling. Kelly brings another facet to it because she’s a woman singing “Motor City Man,” but she makes it work. Boy, does she make it work.
How did you come up with the concept for the video?
When we started working on the video, we found this amazing footage that works with the story. It really elucidates the idea of simple people, and that’s where country music lives. The song is about simple people who are just trying to get by. Seeing the old footage is really compelling for me. I hope other people find it interesting.
What’s your favorite aspect of the song?
One of my favorite things about country music — I like sitting up late at night, drinking a beer, and saying, “Hey, man, you know who wrote that song? You know where that came from? You know what story they are trying to tell?” In country music, there’s always a backstory that’s insane, and this song certainly has that.