Music is everywhere in life, the birds perform daily and the crickets each Spring night. It is impossible to escape on TV, the radio and internet. There is music in a child’s laughter and the ears of a factory owner when his machines are humming. It creates moods in the malls, churches and bars. Even the deaf can create classic concertos.
So few things in life strike a chord in your mind that change your outlook and touch your spirit. My life was unknowingly changed forever when my brother-in-law gave me a copy of Dream Café. I wore that disc out playing it over and over. It related to the turmoil in my little world. How did this guy 1,553 miles away, that I had never met, relate to my circumstances so well? I was intrigued. As any normal kid back in the day, I listened to KJR and KOL to the Beatles’ new releases and bought them all on vinyl at the local music store. Back then, it was a music store. You could buy records and tubas and flutes. Their music moved me back then, but Greg Brown’s music transformed me into a new reality in adulthood.
I was named after a bandleader and had a grandfather who was a professional musician, but I was half deaf from ear infections in my early years. Ten minutes into my first and last lesson from Grandpa, he told me to play piano or percussion. My clarinet hurt his ears. Like so many things in life, tone and attitude are everything. Greg’s lyrics resonated in my existence and has forever altered my view of the world and how I deal with it.
It didn’t take long to start collecting his other recordings. By now, retail music stores were selling drums, guitars and amps instead of albums, cassettes and CDs. So, I became a Red House Records regular and developed a phone and email relationship with some of them. My appetite was satisfied for a spell, but there was one LP out there not available at Red House. It was out of print and the original record company was out of business. My years of toil to locate a copy proved futile.
When I bought my first computer, it became a glorified electronic game of Solitaire. Today, I wouldn’t know where to find that singular entertainment. Somehow I branched out and discovered there was a website devoted to Greg’s music. On it was a link to a group of other rabid fans. How could there be others who related to this music like me? I joined right up. That must have about twenty years ago. Greg’s music played in my head even when the stereo wasn’t on. His lyrics inspired me to pull out my dusty pen and start writing again. I got up the nerve to introduce myself to the group by sending some sort of silly rhyme. For nine years or so, I only posted in verse. It became my trademark, some liked it, some no doubt hated it. Everyone knew who I was and knew I was slightly crazy. One fellow fan even sent me a scratchy recording of the one album I was missing
Recordings were no longer enough. The next time Greg came to town, my wife and I were the first in line. For many years, that became a mandatory procedure. That first show was at the now defunct Backstage in the Ballard area of Seattle. I had been to many concerts with much bigger names, but none as entertaining and pure and moving. He played some of the songs off Dream Café more fun and pure and soul wrenching than the CD. The hook was firmly in my jowls and there was no turning back. For a couple years, he came to town once or twice and that seemed to satisfy my appetite.
Because of my exuberance at the concerts and presence on the internet discussion group, people at these shows began approaching me and introducing themselves. Some of the absolute finest people on this planet are Greg fans. To feed my frenzy, road trips were the next obvious step in this journey……….To be continued, maybe.
I have kicked around the idea of writing a book on this subject. Anybody interested in reading more about my twenty years of this adventure?