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Clarence Bucaro stopped by the WERS studio this sunny afternoon to play a few songs for our Coffeehouse segment. The New York based singer-songwriter is releasing his sixth album on May twenty-eighth, entitled Dreaming in the Heart of New York. In the studio, Bucaro was friendly and easygoing, eager to answer questions about his music. After years of non-stop touring (think three hundred shows a year!), he has slowed down a bit, but there is still a chance to see him on his upcoming tour in the Northeast.
Bucaro is originally from Cleveland, but has spent his life moving from city to city, spending time in New Orleans, LA, and most recently, New York. As the title of his new album makes obvious, he has found inspiration in his latest move. “I wouldn’t say [this album] is about New York, but it is from New York,” he explains. “The title track is a reflection on when I came there, and now I have two kids and I’m raising them in the same city. When I started writing material for this, I was feeling kind of nostalgic about when I had first come to New York… I just really wanted to live there, I had always read about it and been enamored with the city.”
The first song of Bucaro’s set was the album’s title track, “Dreaming in the Heart of New York.” The lyrics conjure up images of a young person new to a big city, feeling overwhelmed but excited at the same time. “I like to fall asleep to the sound of the freeway/humming like a distant train./I remember when I came here, it was cold/barely knew a soul.” Along with plucking his guitar, Bucaro played harmonica, which added a mournful yet peaceful mood to the lyrics.
When asked how his approach to writing has changed now that he has two children, Bucaro claimed he has become a better and “fuller” writer. “I write more economical now because I don’t have any time! So what comes out of that is more necessary lyrics, as opposed to sitting and laboring over the same thing over and over again.” He says that ideas or even titles will come to him, and he from there he creates the lyrics. “I’m a lyrics before music sort of writer.”
The second song Bucaro performed was also off Dreaming in the Heart of New York, entitled “New Sky.” This song was just him and his guitar, highlighting his smooth, warm vocals. Finally, Bucaro set aside his guitar and moved to the piano to perform “Magnolia, Magnolia,” an old song about New Orleans. Once again, the simple instrumental line drew attention to his strong voice and thoughtful lyrics. However, if you get the chance to hear Bucaro play in concert, remember to request his song “Curtis Mayfield;” its Bucaro’s favorite off the new album to perform live.
What makes Clarence Bucaro a great musician is that he seems like such a regular guy. He knows what it is like to feel alone in a big city, then grow to love that city. He has a family and spends time raising his two children. Dreaming in the Heart of New York seems to embody this ‘regular guy’ perspective. When discussing the theme of the album, Bucaro says, “It started at first as a nostalgic record about three distinct periods in my life. And then it turned into a relationship album by the end, a record about stuff, life, everything.”