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Greg Brown

Critic Josh Kun once described singer and songwriter Greg Brown as "a Midwestern existentialist hobo with a quick-draw mouth, a bloodied heart, and bourbon on his breath." One of the leading contemporary folk artists of the American Midwest, Brown's music reflects a poetic spirit while also sounding thoroughly down to Earth; his deep, craggy voice expresses quirky humor and the mysteries of life and love with equal skill, and over the course of a career that's spanned more than five decades, he's earned a passionate following for his heartfelt and uncompromising music.

Brown was born on July 2, 1949 in the Hacklebarney section of Southeastern Iowa. His mother was an English teacher who played guitar, and taught her son about both books and music; his father earned his living as an electrician and scrap metal dealer, but also preached in a Pentecostal church on Sundays. As his family traveled throughout the Midwest, Brown soaked up a broad range of musical influences: gospel, blues, country, bluegrass, classical, and rock & roll. At the age of six, he learned to play the pump organ, and soon picked up the guitar from his mother. After graduating from high school, Brown enrolled at the University of Iowa; he signed up for a talent competition and won first prize, an opening spot at a campus concert by singer/songwriter Eric Andersen. Andersen liked Brown's performance and told the teenager he should consider moving East and trying his hand at a career in music. Brown needed no further encouragement, and soon quit school and headed to New York, where he found a steady gig at Gerde's Folk City, performing and running the weekly Hootenanny night. After a year in New York, Brown lit out for the West Coast, where he landed a job ghostwriting songs for Buck Ram, longtime manager of the Platters; while Brown said he learned a lot about writing on a deadline, he didn't enjoy life in Los Angeles and opted to return to Iowa.

He continued to write and perform after coming home, and for a while he worked as a duo act with his friend Richard Pinney; in 1974, they released an album, Hacklebarney, recorded during a show in Rockford, Illinois. The album sold poorly, and Brown didn't record again until 1980, when he self-released his first solo effort, 44 & 66. His second album, 1981's The Iowa Waltz, became a regional favorite, and the 1983 release One Night captured the intimate feel of Brown's increasingly popular live shows. Later in 1983, he teamed up with Bob Feldman, a St. Paul, Minnesota schoolteacher and music fan, to launch their own record company, Red House Records, which would in time become one of the nation's most successful independent folk labels. 1983's In the Dark with You became his first release for Red House; it earned enthusiastic reviews and sold well in the folk market, in part thanks to Brown's frequent appearances on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. Brown's next release, 1986's Songs of Innocence and Experience, was an ambitious effort to set the poems of William Blake to music, and received enthusiastic reviews, as did his next effort, 1988's One More Goodnight Kiss. 1989's One Big Town earned Brown an Indie Award from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors for Best Adult Contemporary Album, and in 1993, he cut a duet album with Bill Morrissey, Friend of Mine, which earned them a Grammy nomination. 1994's The Poet Game brought Brown another Indie Award, and he released a second concert recording, The Live One, in 1995. After two more successful albums for Red House, Further In (1996) and Slant Six Mind (1997), Brown released 1999's Solid Heart, which was the first of several discs he's issued as fundraisers for various charitable organizations. 2000's Over and Under was a stripped-down project Brown opted to release through a smaller independent outfit, Trailer Records, rather than Red House; a second album for Trailer, Honey in the Lion's Head, appeared in 2004. Red House Records went through a change in ownership after the death of Bob Feldman in 2006; Brown released his album The Evening Call through Red House later that year, but for his next studio album, 2011's Freak Flag, he struck a deal with Yep Roc Records.

In his personal life, Brown has been married three times. He has three daughters from his first marriage, Constance Brown, Zoe Brown, and Pieta Brown; all three are musicians (Pieta has released several albums, with her father making guest appearances on two), and they performed Greg's song "Ella Mae" as a trio on the benefit compilation Going Driftless: An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown. In 2002, Brown wed his third wife, fellow singer and songwriter Iris DeMent; he later covered her song "Let the Mystery Be" on his album Freak Flag. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Spring Wind, yes...
jmlowry_78
Where is benke?
dodiebenko
GB
His voice is new every time I hear it. And, I could listen all day long, it speaks to my spirit.
love this man, many many evenings spent at falconridge on the hill, listening to this voice. and many other evenings listening to him on my stereo... happy happy happy!
jmlowry_78
What's Benke doin?
greg: please come back to falcoln ridge
fglf226
Saw GB and Bo at the Somerville theatre on Friday night. A Great show as always. 2 Cool Dudes
The guy crushes me with his lyrics every new to me song I hear...
I wish like hell Pandopa would provide lyrics for all of Mr Browns songs.
The electric guitar in the middle of Flat Stuff reminds of just that, flat stuff! Awesome!
on top of spaghetti; whoda thunk it?
For a introduction to/confirmat i o n of/reminder of Greg's songwriting genius listen to Oh You. Unmatched.
Got to open for him in 2007-he's my favorite songwriter of all time and I was appreciative of how down-to-eart h cool he is-one of the best moments of my life:) Missoula, Mt.
Brown's delivery, voice and musical focus are captivating. Great musician.
you have your Bio Wrong. Gregg Brown not Bill Morrissey
Agree Bob. You have a taste for quality.
Greg Brown has one of the most fascinating voices I've ever heard. His lyrics are fantastic.
dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually work
ranjok
Greg Brown is an Iowan all the way.
elimsprings9
Good grief people lighten up! So they messed up on the bio they're still give us the best damn commercial free radio for 36 bucks a year you're gonna find anywhere.
jnff66
WTF? where is the bio on Greg Brown?
plink50
Why is this write up all about Bill Morrissey instead of Greg Brown?
Huge fan of Greg Brown. He ain't Bill Morrissey.
I've been a fan of his since about 1992. I think it would take a novel to describe his music and style. So in just one word I say he's Excellent.

Ever try the Indian spice Curry? He's like Curry it make take you a while to get it, but once you do, it will become one of your favorite spice. Greg's songs are spices for you life.
webersf
Greg Brown is one fine folksinger and bard
fishin with bill is a great song.the map was broken goodnight bill
maruskababus k a
greg brown in from minn or iowa or thereabouts and he married iris dement @ 2 yrs ago--i hear they are very happy together--tw o kindred, talented spirits--i hope they find happiness and completeness together--th e y both deserve it!
I agree that it's annoying to see the wrong bio pop up, but Pandora is about the MUSIC, not the crappy biographies or the misspelled song titles('Cept You and Me Bebe?) So all in all, Pandora's music outweighs it's lack of literary prestige. Greg Brown, you are the coolest.
mark373635
Seems like Greg Brown still = Bill Morrisey. This was my first experience with Pandora. Not impressed.
hethre_woodf o r d
Greg Brown's own lyric sums him up:
I never saw anything so beautiful/
Or so ordinary.
johanngwagne r
They finally put the right bio up! Greg Brown is a true gift to the songwriting community!
cowboy4576
PANDORA's bio for Greg Brown is actually Bill Morrissey's bio
C'mon Pandora, it's nice that you offer a free service, but put forth SOME effort and fix this bio! Greg Brown is NOT Bill Morrisey!
how long does it take to fix this..GREG BROWN not Bill Morrissey... . P a n d o r a . . . I s anyone home???????
dykhousel
Please fix this! Greg Brown is too great to be confused with anyone else - even Bill Morrissey
mrymg2001
if you google Greg's website- You'll learn more about this amazing musician . I made a station from one of his songs- he is the Real Deal!
dranger62
Thought this was a bio on Greg Brown...oops . . y e a h like the guy two below me. This guy is the real deal!
Greg Brown you da man!
angelablackn e f f
Greg Brown is not Bill Morrisey - get it right Pandora! I love them both.
So this has had Bill Morrisey's bio for at least 2 years now?? It's kind of ironic as they did put out a recording together a number of years ago.
dennisrock
Lull It Bye is what I'm listening to. It's the first Greg Brown song I've heard. I like it a lot. Will have to look for more. Too bad the bio is messed up. Was hoping to learn more
Bio Fail...
innerimp
The bio is titled Greg Brown, but is about Bill Morrissey.
Bill Morrissey lives!
Used to go see Greg play at The Mill in IC with Bo Ramsey, 20 years ago ! Saw him play out at Dempsters Farm a couple of times when Keith was still the owner.
paulbellefeu i l l e
...and we're back to the Bill Morrissey bio.. ..on some Greg Brown CD pages the bio is correct..
paulbellefeu i l l e
Saw Greg this Summer in Portsmouth NH. EXCELLENT SHOW!! Thanks Greg!
webersf
Greg Brown ! Wow
Keithmikesel l
Doesn't really matter. Both good artists and info is available elsewhere on the net. Just happy to be able to listen to both in a town still stuck in the 70's.
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