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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Freak Flag

1. Someday House

2. Where Are You Going When You're Gone

3. Rain & Snow

4. Freak Flag

5. Lovinest One

6. I Don't Know Anybody In This Town

7. Flat Stuff

8. Mercy Mercy Mercy

9. Let The Mystery Be

10. Remember The Sun

11. Tenderhearted Child

x

Track List: Essential Recordings, 1997-2006

Disc 1

1. Dream City

2. Rexroth's Daughter

3. Evening Call

4. Vivid

5. Whatever It Was

8. Joy Tears

9. Samson

11. Blue Car

12. Living In A Prayer

14. Kokomo

15. Never So Far

16. Why Don't You Just Go Home

Disc 2
x

Track List: Yellow Dog

1. Intro

2. Cold + Dark + Wet (Live)

3. Dream Cafe (Live)

4. Better Days (Live)

5. Conesville Slough (Live)

6. Oily Boys (Live)

7. All Of Those Things (Live)

8. Canned Goods (Live)

9. Pitchin' In (Live)

10. Laughing River (Live)

11. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (Live)

12. Piggie Song (Live)

x

Track List: The Evening Call

1. Joy Tears

2. Evening Call

3. Cold+Dark+Wet

4. Bucket

5. Mighty Sweet Watermelon

6. Treat Each Other Right

7. Eugene

8. Coneville Slough

9. Kokomo

10. Pound It On Down

11. Skinny Days

12. Whippoorwill

x

Track List: In The Hills Of California: Live From The Kate Wolf Music Festival 1997-2003

Disc 1

1. For All (Live)

2. Wash My Eyes (Live)

3. Never So Far (Live)

4. The Way My Baby Calls My Name (Live)

5. Spring And All (Live)

6. Slow Food (Live)

7. InaBell Sale (Live)

8. Tequila And Me (Live)

9. China (Live)

10. Introduction To kate's Guitar (Live)

11. Kate's Guitar (Live)

12. Say A Little Prayer (Live)

13. You Really Got A Hold On Me (Live)

14. I Want My Country Back (Live)

15. I Shall Not Be Moved (Live)

16. Two Little Feet (Live)

Disc 2

1. Introduction To Lord I Have Made You A Place In My Heart (Live)

2. Lord I Have Made You A Place In My Heart (Live)

3. Poet Game (Live)

4. Think About You (Live)

5. Where Is Maria (Live)

6. Lullaby (Live)

7. Almost Out Of Gas (Live)

8. Livin' In A Prayer (Live)

9. Introduction To Mose Allison Played Here (Live)

10. Mose Allison Played Here (Live)

11. Rexroth's Daughter (Live)

12. Vivid (Live)

13. Kind Hearted Woman Blues (Live)

14. Just By Myself (Live)

15. Your Town Now (Live)

16. Don't Let Me Down (Live)

x

Track List: Honey In The Lions Head

1. Railroad Bill

2. I Believe I'll Go Back Home

3. Who Killed C**k Robin

4. Old Smokey

5. The Foggy Foggy Dew

6. Down In The Valley

7. Ain't No One Like You

8. Green Grows The Laurel

9. I Don't Want Your Millions Mister

10. I Will Never Marry

11. Samson

12. Jacob's Ladder

x

Track List: Milk Of The Moon

1. Lull It By

2. A Little Excited

3. Let Me Be Your Gigolo

4. Smell Of Coffee

5. Milk Of The Moon

6. Mud

7. Ashamed Of Our Love

8. Steady Love

9. The Moon Is Nearly Full

10. Telling Stories

11. Never So Far

12. Oh You

x

Track List: Covenant

1. Cept You & Me Babe

2. Rexroth's Daughter

3. Real Good Friend

4. Blues Go Walking

5. Waiting On You

6. Living In A Prayer

7. Dream City

8. Lullaby

9. Blue Car

10. Walkin' Daddy

11. Pretty One More Time

12. Marriage Chant

x

Track List: Slant 6 Mind

1. Whatever It Was

2. Loneliness House

3. Mose Allison Played Here

4. Spring & All

5. Vivid

6. Dusty Woods

7. Billy From The Hills

8. Speaking In Tongues

9. Enough

10. Hurt So Nice

11. Wild Like A Sonny Boy

12. Down At The Mill

13. Why Don't You Just Go Home

x

Track List: Further In

1. Small Dark Movie

2. Think About You

3. Two Little Feet

4. Hey Baby Hey

5. China

6. Where Is Maria

7. If You Don't Get It At Home

8. You Can Always Come To Me

9. Someday When We're Both Alone

10. Not High

11. Further In

12. If I Ever Do See You Again

x

Track List: The Live One

1. Just By Myself (Live)

2. Billy From The Hills (Live)

3. Boomtown (Live)

4. Spring Wind (Live)

5. Laughing River (Live)

6. You Drive Me Crazy (Live)

7. Canned Goods (Live)

8. I Don't Want To Have A Nice Day (Live)

9. Brand New '64 Dodge (Live)

10. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning (Live)

11. One More Goodnight Kiss (Live)

12. Moondance (Live)

x

Track List: The Poet Game

1. Brand New '64 Dodge

2. Boomtown

3. The Poet Game

4. Ballingall Hotel

5. One Wrong Turn

6. Jesus And Elvis

7. Sadness

8. Lately

9. Lord I Have Made You A Place In My Heart

10. My New Book

11. Driftless

12. Here In The Going, Going, Gone

x

Track List: Dream Cafe

1. Just By Myself

2. Sleeper

3. I Don't Know That Guy

4. So Hard

5. You Can Watch Me

6. Dream Cafe

7. You Drive Me Crazy

8. Spring Wind

9. Nice When It Rains

10. Laughing River

11. No Place Away

12. I Don't Want To Be The One

x

Track List: Down In There

1. If I Had Known

2. Hillbilly Girl

3. A Little Place In The Country

4. Worrisome Years

5. Hacklebarney Tune

6. Poor Back Slider

7. Fooled Me Once

8. Band Of Gold

9. All Day Rain

10. You Are A Flower

x

Track List: One Big Town

1. The Way They Get Themselves Up

2. The Monkey

3. One Cool Remove

4. Back Home Again

5. Just Live

7. Lotsa Kindsa Money

8. Things Go On

9. America Will Eat You

10. Tell Me It's Gonna Be Alright

x

Track List: One More Goodnight Kiss

1. One More Goodnight Kiss

2. Say A Little Prayer

3. Mississippi Moon

4. Cheapest Kind

5. Canned Goods

6. I Can't Get Used To It

7. Rooty Toot Toot For The Moon

8. Walking Down To Casey's

9. Speed Trap Boogie

10. Our Little Town

11. Wash My Eyes

12. Cronies

13. It Gets Lonely In A Small Town

14. I Wish I Was A Painter

x

Track List: In The Dark With You

1. Who Woulda Thunk It

2. In The Dark With You

3. Help Me Make It Through This Funky Day

4. I Slept All Night By My Lover

5. Where Do The Wild Geese Go

6. Good Morning Coffee

7. All The Money's Gone

8. Letters From Europe

9. Just A Bum

10. Who Do You Think You're Fooling

11. People With Bad Luck

12. In The Water

x

Track List: The Iowa Waltz

1. The Iowa Waltz

2. Mississippi Serenade

3. Counting Feedcaps

4. Grand Junction

5. Out In The Country

6. Walking The Beans

7. My Home In The Sky

8. King Corn

9. Daughters

10. Four Wet Pigs

x

Track List: 44 & 66

1. 44 & 66

2. Don't You Think Too Much

3. Bozo's In Love Again

4. Twenty Or So

5. Ring Around The Moon

6. Downtown

7. People Hide Their Love

8. Lullaby At The Edge Of Town

9. Early

11. Comin' Into You

x

Track List: If I Had Known: Essential Recordings, 1980-1996

1. If I Had Known

2. Worrisome Years

3. Laughing River

4. Canned Goods

5. Who Woulda Thunk It

6. The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home

7. Ella Mae

8. Our Little Town

9. Good Morning Coffee

10. Downtown

11. You Drive Me Crazy

12. Spring Wind

13. The Poet Game

14. Where Is Maria

15. Boomtown

16. Two Little Feet

17. Driftless

Comments

Report as inappropriate
This man is an Amazing artist. Saw him several years back

He
Is Fantastic!!

08oD
Report as inappropriate
Great talent - and he often makes me want to head for the hills!!
Report as inappropriate
jmlowry_78
Who do ya who do ya who do ya think you're fooling? Benke? No chance homeboy.
Report as inappropriate
bjaquith_6
Love you, Greg
Always have
Report as inappropriate
Similar Artists; Mark Knopfler!!! Every time I hear this guy I have to look. Fools me every time.
Report as inappropriate
I tried to get through a song and his voice annoyed me too much
Report as inappropriate
jmlowry_78
Seriously this guy sounds like Benke.
Report as inappropriate
easy to listen to
Report as inappropriate
that's a true Story....... m d r e s s l 2 5 ! ! ~ He's truly an incredible artist!!
Love GB!!

0;o)))
Report as inappropriate
mdressel25
if you get a chance to see him live - don't pass it up!
Report as inappropriate
Greg Brown always makes me feel the world is a better place. Thanks Greg.
Report as inappropriate
Sounds a lot like Mark Knopfler!
Report as inappropriate
This man is VERY talented!!

Love his stories,
Very deep & thought provoking

Fun show at the Rio in Santa Cruz

0:o))
Report as inappropriate
jmlowry_78
I heard this guy cover Brian Benke once or twice I think.
Report as inappropriate
dmcgowan6910
What a talent! Ive
Report as inappropriate
Well.....the dripping ceiling took me back to childhood... . . . b u t I like Brown anyhow. :)
Report as inappropriate
I've seen him live eight timesand believe he is as great as Jack Elliot , pete seeger and woody guthrie in america and leonard cohen, joni mitchell and ian tyson in canada on the folk scene.Dick and Sue, middleport ny.
Report as inappropriate
mclenning
Greg and bo Ramsey are gold
Report as inappropriate
Spring Wind, yes...
Report as inappropriate
jmlowry_78
Where is benke?
Report as inappropriate
dodiebenko
GB
Report as inappropriate
His voice is new every time I hear it. And, I could listen all day long, it speaks to my spirit.
Report as inappropriate
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!
Report as inappropriate
jmlowry_78
What's Benke doin?
Report as inappropriate
greg: please come back to falcoln ridge
Report as inappropriate
fglf226
Saw GB and Bo at the Somerville theatre on Friday night. A Great show as always. 2 Cool Dudes
Report as inappropriate
The guy crushes me with his lyrics every new to me song I hear...
Report as inappropriate
I wish like hell Pandopa would provide lyrics for all of Mr Browns songs.
Report as inappropriate
The electric guitar in the middle of Flat Stuff reminds of just that, flat stuff! Awesome!
Report as inappropriate
on top of spaghetti; whoda thunk it?
Report as inappropriate
For a introduction to/confirmat i o n of/reminder of Greg's songwriting genius listen to Oh You. Unmatched.
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
robertwood13
Brown's delivery, voice and musical focus are captivating. Great musician.
Report as inappropriate
you have your Bio Wrong. Gregg Brown not Bill Morrissey
Report as inappropriate
Agree Bob. You have a taste for quality.
Report as inappropriate
robertwood13
Greg Brown has one of the most fascinating voices I've ever heard. His lyrics are fantastic.
Report as inappropriate
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
Report as inappropriate
ranjok
Greg Brown is an Iowan all the way.
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
jnff66
WTF? where is the bio on Greg Brown?
Report as inappropriate
plink50
Why is this write up all about Bill Morrissey instead of Greg Brown?
Report as inappropriate
Huge fan of Greg Brown. He ain't Bill Morrissey.
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
Greg Brown is one fine folksinger and bard
Report as inappropriate
fishin with bill is a great song.the map was broken goodnight bill
Report as inappropriate
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!
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
mark373635
Seems like Greg Brown still = Bill Morrisey. This was my first experience with Pandora. Not impressed.
Report as inappropriate
hethre_woodf o r d
Greg Brown's own lyric sums him up:
I never saw anything so beautiful/
Or so ordinary.
Report as inappropriate
johanngwagne r
They finally put the right bio up! Greg Brown is a true gift to the songwriting community!
Show more

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