Anyone who knows me well knows I *heart* Greg Brown. Okay, I don’t know him personally (and he’s married, to Iris Dement, and I’m married, for that matter), so what I really *heart* is his evocative songwriting, his deep voice (with surprising multi-octave range and vocal techniques), his mad guitar skills, his midwestern sensibility, and his big gruff man persona. I have never heard a songwriter or poet, for that matter, who can evoke with so few words a feeling or place more exactly.
I first heard him on his Laughing River tour when he came to my little Northern Michigan town in 1991. Laughing River is probably his best-known song (and is so beloved by me that it was the first song played at our wedding reception). He showed up sunburned after a day of fishing, wearing a white undershirt, a well-worn floppy hat, and sunglasses. He didn’t do much talking that night, but the performance was spellbinding. Twenty years later I can still conjure up the night in my mind. I even saved the ticket because of the beautiful artwork by Northern Michigan artist Glen Wolff.
So in college while everyone was listening to Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins I was listening to Greg Brown. This shouldn’t surprise anyone (I was probably home making cookies or sewing clothes and drinking tea, too). Laugh away, I do!
So without further ado…Laughing River (which is an actual river in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).
And something from Greg’s recent album, Freak Flag. This song is the poster child for individualism and authenticity, and using one’s gifts for good.
And a snippet from my favorite song from Freak Flag, Someday House. So sweet!
I saw GB at a small venue in the next town over this summer. Total thrill, particularly when I chased him down with a Sharpie in hand and got an autograph and an adrenaline rush. Yes, over the guy in the Carhartt overalls rolled up to capri-length!! There’s no denying I’m a midwestern girl.