The Story Behind Bobby Bare’s Song About Making Cars in ‘Detroit City’

In his current book, The Philosophy of Modern Song, respected music artist Bob Dylan critiques 66 popular recordings to explain how music reveals the character of a culture.

Wouldn’t you know it, Page 1 of Chapter 1 features “Detroit City,” Bobby Bear’s 1963 crossover country classic about a disillusioned white man from the South who comes north to the Motor City.

The man makes cars and makes money, but he feels homesick. As many may recall, Barre pronounces the place “DEE-troit City.”

“People back home think I’m big in Detroit City, “From the letters I write, they think I’m fine, “But by day I make the cars, “At night I make the bars, “Only you can read “Between the lines” . . . I want to go home . . . “

Barre recorded and released the song 60 years ago this spring. On the Billboard charts, it reached number six on the country-western chart and number 16 on the pop chart and launched his successful career.

“It wasn’t until Detroit City came along that I realized I’d never have to get a real job, which was a huge relief for a guitarist,” Barre told the All Access Pass website.

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