This CD was the first where I was able to carry my mini-studio with me on the road. In a way, it’s my I-90 CD as it was recorded in odd places along that corridor as far west as Madison, WI. Thanks to the kindness of friends and supporters, I was able to record a fantastic group of singers, because either we were on tour together with Phil Ochs Song Nights, or I could go to them. But, the clearing house for all things music for me in this time period was Fox Run Studio in Sudbury, MA. Neale Eckstein was unfailingly generous with his time as he was teaching me how to use his studio as we were recording. This has been an invaluable education for me. The more you understand the process, the more you understand how to incorporate that knowledge into every level of creativity.
My CDs always represent a swath of my life experience and this was a very rich time, producting some of my most lasting songs. I can always gauge just how successful I’ve been with my writing by how long a song remains in my live shows. Rosa Parks, My Good Name, Down the Road, and What Must Be Done are still in my shows so many years later. A Song for Soldiers has lain as a challenge for me to work out how to play it powerfully, and how to place it in a show. I am so proud of this CD, both creatively and for the amount of sheer energy that it took to make it happen.
My Good Name
C9 tuning (CGDGCD), capo on 3, key of Eflat
A collection of my misconceptions. This was inspired by a visit to a loan officer in a bank on Cape Cod. He couldn’t have been more condescending, eating a sandwich, yawning openly in front of me. He told me that I would be better off working in a grocery store stocking shelves. Then the Enron scandle happened. So I undertook to envision where I had gone wrong. Obviously, it was in the womb. Talk about a misconception.
C9 tuning, capo on 3, key of Bflat
I was waiting for a ride on New Years Day. I thought that I would use the time productively and I picked up the New York Times. There was a section about all of the famous and infamous people who had died in the previous year. On the front page of that section was a famous photograph of Rosa Parks. I remembered it as the first picture I’d ever seen of her, years before. In his eulogy for William Butler Yeats, W. H. Auden wrote of the day that the poet died, “he became his admirers.” It just came alive in my mind - it had become our duty to make sure that her story is told, time and time again. I had also just learned that the night before her civil disobediance, her family had begged her not to do it. And this is just one story of the thousands that it has taken to move us forward. It is humbling and inspiring.
Down the Road
on piano, in the key of G
On the first day when you can truly trust that Spring has arrived, there is hope and rebirth everywhere. This is a song of lessons learned. I am talking to myself in this song, “get up, boy, and get on down the road.” Dwelling in your mistakes is a mistake in itself. One of my favorite lines of mine came from an exit in the middle of Ohio, where literally, “the moon’s a golden sliver in the last patch of blue fading west over the mountains.” “ I see my soul there with it while my feet are here in clay, meet you ‘round the other way.” I don’t think I’ve ever found another physical metaphor for my own psychological state anywhere. I had to let it go and find myself again.
What Must Be DOne
a cappella, key of B flat
Best twenty minutes of my writing life, ever. I was asked to do a lay service for the first time in my life - once again the connection to the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin, MA. It was MLK weekend and after hearing me sing “In the Name of Love.” they asked, and I said yes. I asked them if their choir would be willing to sing with me in the service and they were very enthusiastic. I had the thought that it would be a terribly wasted opportunity to get all of those people together and only do one song. So, I thought that I should write something a cappella and simple, a zipper song, easy to learn on the spot. I remembered a line from one of my old Rock songs called Tear Down This House. “I learned as a child, there are two ways to see, the world as it is, and the way it should be.” The next line came in an instant. And so did the rest of the song. That’s never happened, before or since. And now, choirs all over the US and Canada have sung this song.
C9 tuning, no capo, key of C
If only we could meet each other without the weight of past experience. This is a song about forgiveness, compromise, and understanding, all the things it takes (and so many more) to love someone the way you need to love someone. This song contains the truth, “time reveals us all.”
A Song for Soldiers
on piano, key of A
March 7, 1965 was a forboding day in the history of the United States. Not only did the American public see on television for the first time the violence perpetrated upon its Black citizens with the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but LBJ ordered the first US fighting units into Vietnam. No general, no advisor, no one consulted could give LBJ a positive outcome to direct involvement in Vietnam, but he made the decision because a US president cannot “show weakness.” 58,000 citizens did not come home to America, and no one knows how many Vietnamese were lost. This song is about the gap between what makes a human being willing to give up their life, and what makes governments ask them to.
I wrote this song imagining singing to a veteran, not of the United States, but of history - a universal soldier.
mystery of life
C9 tuning, Capo on 3, key of E flat
Anyone in a relationship with an artist is in a love triangle. Art is, at once, an ethereal pursuit, and an unconscious drive, anchored deep in the artist's psyche. The person trying to live with this in the practical world is facing an overwhelming challenge. As history has shown, almost no one can live with that without tremendous personal sacrifice. Some can find a way to share the journey. Some can’t. This song is the artist speaking.
C9 tuning, Capo on 5
You are never a star in your own home. This is a fanciful expression of that idea inspired by my friend Rob Richardson giving me Joshua Judges Ruth by Lyle Lovett. Lyle can be masterfully dry whitted and romantic on the same CD. I think an unfortunate kitchen sink incident had something to do with this song.
I love everybody
on piano, in the key of G
It’s an arresting thing to get a tax bill from a state you’ve never been in. That’s exactly what happened with me and the state of Missouri. In the wake of the popularity of Branson, MO’s mini Las Vegas, the state started requiring agents to file contracts six months ahead of the show so they could issue tax bills for bands leaving the state without paying taxes. I’d signed a contract for a show in St. Louis, so I received my official welcome to Missouri.
No more songs by Phil Ochs
C9 tuning, Capo on 3, key of E flat
This is my favorite Phil Ochs song. Sonny Ochs made it oh so very clear that I was to be putting a Phil song on my CD. One does not solicit the ire of Sonny Ochs. But, Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow had already sung the harmonies from their seats when they first heard me play it. So, it was all there to be done. A hauntingly autobiographical song.
Musicians & Credits
Greg Greenway: vocals, guitar, piano, drum loops, percussion
Duncan Watt: piano
Jeff St. Pierre: bass
Bruce Abbott: Sax
Lisa Brown: percussion
Eric Schwartz: digital cello
Face Productions World Headquarters, Harwich, MA
Fox Run Studios, Sudbury, MA
Up in the Ochs Studio, Franklinton, NY
Slice of the Pie Studio, Middleburgh, NY
Broken Foot Studio, Madison, WI
Cover Photo by Susan Wilson, susanwilsonphoto.com
Cover and layout design: GG
Thank You to all those listed on this CD with whom I travel, work, sing, and live, who constantly teach me the meaning of life. Without you... To the Buhlers, the Pies who allowed me to invade their homes. To the fabulous souls at SUUSI, articularly Tim Stanton, Page Potter, and Ginger Long... To all of the wonderful folks at WUMB. To Diane Housken for all of her web help. To Sonny who allows me to win every once in a while... To Laurie and Neale who cross all categories above. To Roscoe and Jeanie Beanie, in whose footsteps I walk... and expecially to Neale Eckstein, whose constant generosity of spirit and quiet genius made all of this happen. Reg, TPR, you’re the best.