Fate appears to be showing a fondness for British singer-songwriter Bobby Long. While making the rounds of open-mike nights in London, the 22-year-old tunesmith happened to befriend actor-singer Robert Pattinson, the high-haired heartthrob whose every move is studied by the hordes of followers of the Twilight film series. Ever since Long showed Pattinson a song he'd cowritten called “Let Me Sign”, things have just been getting sweeter and sweeter for him.
“I played it to Robert and he took to it straight away,” recalls Long, travelling on the New Jersey Turnpike after a sold-out Manhattan club gig. “He likes my music a lot, so he's always singing different songs of mine, but that's the one he liked the most.”
Pattinson ended up singing “Let Me Sign” on the film's soundtrack, and the Twittering Twilight tweens lit up, spreading the word on the ethereal song and its then-unknown cocreator. So far, the recognition sparked by his Pattinson connection has allowed Long to score major publishing deals in the U.S. and Britain, and to undertake a headlining North American tour, but he hasn't been hounding his famous pal to get another one of his songs in Twilight's upcoming sequel, New Moon.
“I'm so busy with my own stuff that I haven't really had time to think about anything like that,” says Long, adding that he plans to enter the studio in October to record new material and to redo some of the tunes on Dirty Pond Songs, the 10-track “bootleg” project he recorded in his bedroom in London. He used only acoustic guitar and harmonica to accompany his powerful voice on that Bob Dylan–inspired indie effort, but expects to embellish some of the songs with double bass, slide guitar, and violin. Others, like the poignant “Left to Lie”—which reached number one on the iTunes Unsigned chart—and the current iTunes single, “The Bounty of Mary Jane”, will remain in their original, threadbare form. The latter number sees Long displaying some fingerpicking in the style of Mississippi John Hurt, one of his many blues influences. It's no surprise that the recent graduate of London Metropolitan University wrote his thesis on the social impact of American folk music.
“When I first started playing guitar, all I played was stuff like Muddy Waters, B. B. King, and Lightnin' Hopkins,” he says. “And I love all the folk guys, Dylan and Richie Havens, people like that—Woody Guthrie. Those were kind of my heroes as a kid, whereas everybody else was listening to Oasis.”
Bobby Long plays the Backstage Lounge on Tuesday (August 11).