My favorite Greg Brown songs through all space and time
I came to Greg Brown through unconventional means. I was in my “What is this folk music stuff people are telling me I play?” phase, to which I’ve alluded here before. I was maybe 19 and the phrase “folk music” made me nervous, lest it destroy any cool cred I’d amassed up until that point. I was buying up CDs from the folk music section at the record store, choosing artists based on two very hard and fast credentials:
1) They looked like someone I might want to hang out with.
2) Their cover art was interesting.
And so, knowing zero about Greg Brown, I picked up his Further In disc because it fulfilled my second requirement. It was a good decision, since he quickly became one of my Favorite Artists in the World. So, this week’s random unprovoked list of favorites goes to Greg. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my five favorite Greg Brown songs through all space and time. (Please, as usual, feel free to write your own list or add to mine in the comments.)
1. Lord I Have Made You a Place in My Heart
There’s no describing, praising, or refuting the glory of this tune. Packed with disconnected imagery and scene-setting which conveys its own emotion, the tune is equal parts incredibly sad, intimate, and open to interpretation. I think it’s a prime example of the type of personable and emotive storytelling that runs throughout his work.
2. Your Town Now
I’ve come to appreciate this tune more and more in the last few years. It’s a changing of the guard tune, and I take it as a provocation. I reckon when I rediscover it in 20 or 30 years, I’ll love it for a whole different set of reasons. But I think that’s what makes it so good – it’s the kind of song that’s built for everyone, for changing with the times and fitting into every generation.
3. Two Little Feet
I couldn’t find a video of Greg performing this song, which is a shame, but the audio alone should do. I’ve come to decide that the first Greg Brown album I ever purchased is also one of his best. This was one of the first songs I ever heard by him, and it was the one that sold me. It’s also the song that made me find out who John Muir was, so I have to thank Greg for that.
4. ‘Cept You and Me Babe
Nobody writes a love song quite like Greg Brown. The man is not known for mincing words, and this tune is as much about a real-life relationship as it is commentary on the world and everything else there is to say. Besides, the guitar part is just beautiful and ghostly.
5. Homeland/I Want My Country Back
I first saw Greg perform this song at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival shown in this video. It was incredibly stirring at the time, and vocalized so much of what I and everyone I knew was feeling and hadn’t yet found the words or conviction to define. It was the beginning of what became eight years of wanting my country back, and the song now (post-Obama-win) strikes me in a completely different way.
Okay, your turn. Lay it on me.