When I perform monthly at our local Senior Day Care Center I share the songs I’ve written that Greg Brayton and I recorded from 1997- 2001. There were 57 songs in all and it was one of the happiest, most creative experiences of my lifetime. I would take my sows ear set of lyrics and a tune in my head over to the studio arriving at 9 a.m. and just about three hours later Greg and I would shake hands, I’d get into my Red Explorer and drive home with the tape player blasting what seemed like a silver purse of a song from the cassette we’d just completed.
Talk about synergism! – the act of taking two elements and creating something else-, it was like my teaming up with Greg in a joint effort and doing magic math. To me it was like 1+1= 47 or 153 or 7,692. In Greg’s studio my mind would spin. Some mornings I would sit out in Greg’s parking area trying to build up the courage to take my sorry offering inside. It was as if Greg’s genius, together with his magical synthesizers, offered just about any concept of music my wild imagination might conjure up. Once it was a Salvation Army Band on the corner. Another time an old blues piano man in a smokey bar. A karaoke singer in a sleazy club. A bunch of rockers with a couple of motorcycles roaring around the studio. Church bells. A church choir. Strings, violins -lots of violins – and then full string sections for background. Male and female duets with all voices coming from Greg. He was a screeching Edith Bunker or the sweet voice in a tender love song.
Greg cranked out unique arrangements on the spot. When we recorded my patriotic song America is So Beautiful, Greg brought tears to my eyes. Recording my song “If I Loved You Any More You’d Be My Dog,” made us work overtime that day because we were actually rolling around on the studio floor with uncontrolled laughter.
One day I brought in what I think is one of my best songs titled “I Just Love Wakin’ Up With You.” I asked Greg to just sing it without a background and then vamp in a guitar background. Greg insisted that that was not the way he recorded songs. He explained that he first he had to lay in a background, some rhythm, and some actual music line he could follow while singing. We discussed this for some time and I finally yelled out a challenge, “Greg, you are chicken. You can do anything if you just try it!”
I Love That Song
Greg walked over to the area where he recorded the vocals and sang right through that entire song without musical background. He then went back with just his guitar and played the most beautiful musical vamping behind the lyrics one could imagine. He did both of these without a single error. Everything was on key and he did it in one take. I love that song and the way Greg did it. It gives me goose bumps.
Every time I pick up a CD now I think about Greg. He was a loving, caring man and his greatest joy in addition to family was performing in the Coldwater United Methodist Church in Coldwater, Michigan where he served as Director of the Praise Band and continued to be involved with the music program for the 12 long years after he was diagnosed with cancer. At his funeral the church was packed with his fans who loved him and many more stood outside. At a couple of stores in town the signs on their windows read, “Gone to Greg’s Funeral.”
I wish that everyone might experience a Greg Brayton in their lifetime.