Tuesday, March 30, 2010


If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that I pride myself on searching out new music and artists. These are the musical high notes that I dream about at night.

Although my wife would disagree, I am fairly open to suggestions about new music. In this pursuit, I have wasted a lot of money on CDs that became frisbees after one or two spins. I guess you do have to kiss a lot of musical frogs in order to find something good.

Robert Earl Keen has been telling me great things about Greg Brown for a couple of years. I’m not sure why I was so slow to buy one of his records. If a good friend who just happens to be one of our premier songwriters likes Greg Brown, wouldn't you expect me to be running to the nearest record store? Well, I didn't run, but I got there eventually.

Intrigued by Robert's cover of Brown's Laughing River on The Rose Hotel, I finally took the plunge. Under the heading Better Late than Never, I ordered Greg Brown’s If I Had Known-Essential Recordings Vol 2, 1980-1996.

Talk about falling in love with a record. I have played nothing else for the last two months. Even Outlaw Country has taken a back seat to playing this CD. It is a great feeling to discover someone this good. 


 Robert told me about Brown's records: “The more you listen to them, the better they get.” He is so right. Each time I listen to this record, I am more impressed with what I am hearing.

The lyrics to his songs are often very simple, yet they always say a lot. He also has a huge range of topics in his songs. He writes about growing up and growing old (If I Had Known and Laughing River). He writes about love and relationships (Poet Game and Spring Wind). Many of the songs address the situation of rural people in this country and their disappointments (Worrisome Years). Several of his songs express concerns about our environment and the encroachment of the city on rural land and life styles (Boomtown and Two Little Feet). He also displays a quirky sense of humor in several songs (no wonder REK likes him). 

Greg Brown has been making music for over 40 years. He is from the Hacklebarney region of Iowa. After living in New York, Los Angles and Las Vegas, he now lives in Iowa. He is married to the great country singer Iris DeMent. In the 1980's, Greg was heard often on A Prairie Home Companion. He continues to tour today.

The title track of the album is a sweet little song about growing up. It has very insightful lyrics and a catchy beat. I woke every morning for a month with it in my head. Have a listen:
If I Had Known

The next track on the disk is called Worrisome Years. In contrast to the up tempo If I had Known, this song shows Brown's more serious side. Here he sings about rural people and their problems. It is a great tune: 

Worrisome Years

Another great track that rocks a little more than some of the others is Boomtown. Once again, Brown's lyrics hit the mark while the band hit a great groove. This is another one that I have been singing for weeks. Here it is:

  These are some of the more accessible songs on the disk. I hope they will intrigue you enough to buy this collection. There are several more songs including Poet Game and Spring Wind that are very beautiful and thoughtful. Here are some lyrics from Spring Wind:

                                 My friends are gettin older,
                                 so I guess I must be too.
                                Without their loving kindness,
                                 I don't know what I'd do.
                                Oh the wine bottle's half empty--
                                the money's all spent.
                                And we're a cross between our parents
                                and hippies in a tent.

                                Love calls like the wild birds--
                                it's another day.
                               A Spring wind blew my list of
                               things to do...away.

To buy this album from Amazon click here:

If I Had Known: Essential Recordings Vol. 1, 1980-1996