Friday, April 10, 2020

"Everything Will Be Just Fine" / Greg Trooper

I don't know about you, but my coronavirus playlist started out angry and apocalyptic. Yet now, in Week Umptyleven of Lockdown, I'd much rather hear something calming, tender, and upbeat. Like this little gem that dialed up today on my shuffle, by the late great Greg Trooper:

It's from his 2010 album Upside-Down Town, one of his richest collections of songs about how to live the sort of life most of us do live. Greg -- who tragically died of pancreatic cancer in January 2017 -- was never the star he deserved to be; his songs had been covered by everywhere from Steve Earle to Vince Gill to Billy Bragg, but he was still a gigging musician, working house parties and small venues. I like this video because it gives you a flavor of Greg's stage act -- intimate and endearing.

I got to know Greg a little in the last years of his life, when he'd moved back to New York City (he was born in New Jersey), and he was just like his songs -- funny, smart as hell, self-deprecating, and deeply empathetic. Like the wonderful John Prine, whose recent death I'm still mourning, Troop was puzzled by the human condition, and working song by song to figure it out. Greg Trooper was a storyteller, and every one of his songs is a poignant little novel, often with an anti-hero we can totally relate to.

Like this one. The narrator of this song has had a few knocks (dig that verse about driving past the brick house he built where "somebody else is raising my kids inside") -- but he's not bitter, just lonely. We don't get a lot of the details, but then, this kind of guy doesn't dwell on details, just on his gut reaction. He's living day to day, head down, slogging through.

I can relate to that.

Things are tough, but he knows that what would make it better would be some human connection. "I'd settle for coffee and a hand to shake / Conversation 'bout the coffee cake" -- is that too much to ask?

And in these times of self-isolation, isn't the human connection what we most crave?  "But I'd settle for a smile from one lonely frown / And oh my goodness, everything would be just fine." And Greg's warm, comforting vocals are benediction enough.

May you all get that comfort wherever you can find it. We're in this together, and the more we can reach out -- whatever form that takes -- the better we'll be on the other side.

Stay well and take care

1 comment: said...

Hello Holly.
I've enjoyed your posts for some years. I've just thought of you having discovered this fantastic source of a live recording of Steely Dan from 'The Rainbow' in London on 20th May 1974.

It is recorded off the mixing desk and has good liner notes by the poster. I knew this was a great period of their playing, as I had seen the previous night's show at the Bristol Hippodrome. It is the classic line-up and features Jeff Porcaro. The audio quality is brilliant.

I thought you'd like the band, and then after searching your blog I found your tribute to Walter Becker, RIP. So I'm sure you'll enjoy these songs again. But probably you already have heard them!

Take care in troubled times.

Steve Hurrell (