20,000 Versions of the Sun is Greg Greenway’s journey come to life. The title is derived from a rough estimation of the number of days he’d been alive and conscious of the streams of history large and small that have so influenced him. It is also referential to one of his favorite novels, 100 Years of Solitude, by Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez, who shows up magically in the second song (why wouldn’t he). Family, birth, death, Race, and even afterglow, find their way into the most musically evolved songs of Greg’s career. It is the work of a mature artist with a well chosen, diverse pallet – every stroke lush with love and life. Boston based, this is Greg Greenway’s 8th solo CD – his first since being a founding member of Brother Sun. He’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s been on Car Talk, All Things Considered, and Mountain Stage.
Here’s what internationally touring recording artist David Wilcox wrote about 20,000 Versions of the Sun:
“Dave’s opinion of Greg’s fantastic new CD”
“Here is a CD you can put on repeat and it spirals deeper and higher each time around. Great production and a voice that you trust like a good friend. The songs will welcome you back to life. Here is what I heard in these songs:
Can’t Get Out of My Own Way.
This song is a bright welcome, an irrefutable idea, and a powerful place to start this song circle. Some advice from a wise grandmother comes to us with a sense of humor and forgiveness. Those bass notes keep climbing to get a purchase on the tricky slope, and then quickly fall back – just like our resolve to be our best selves.
This song takes up the challenge of the last song and shows us one good way to get out of our own way. We hear an imagined conversation with a novel writer who lived his one life very well. Written on the Ukulele, this song brings a fresh voice to that instrument: intricate fingerpicking rather than a strum. Sure it’s easy to imagine that our heroes never doubt their worth, but even the famous novelist would enjoy seeing his life from this point of view.
Never Say Never
Ah, yes, here’s the anthem for the crowd when injustice brings us out of our homes to gather in the street to demonstrate for a much needed change. See the arc of history manifested as the Edmond Pettus Bridge right under your feet. This song is classic Greg in the best way.
All This Time
This song meets us when we are newly alone and time is suddenly very slow and full of nothing but emptiness. There is forgiveness, but the waves of heartbreak you can even hear in the instrumental. Luckily, in the beautiful arrangement of harmony, we are given kind company and a voice of mercy to sooth the ache.
Here’s a wake-up. A song about the choice we have to awaken from our old ways of thinking. We may seem stuck forever, but as soon as we can think differently, our possibilities change. The words contain this elusive lesson, but even the music reflects how our reality changes when we change our way seeing: the rhythm is perfectly balanced between two ways of feeling the beat: It can feel like a waltz when the percussion comes in, but even then you have a choice. It can change depending on how you think of it. You can hold to it being in 4/4 time and it could feel unchanged, but there remains a dancing invitation to feel it differently. I love how the music works to reinforce the message of the words.
The Skin I’m In
This song is big. What I hear is a conversation Greg is having with his ancestors, but it also echoes a conversation that has remained unspoken for too long in our country. I imagine this song may also be looking at a bridge and a river – and the arc of history as it bends towards justice, but this time the camera is way up above the crowd and it shows us the big view – as if it’s the opening shot of a movie. Those human beings down there look so small. Why do they suffer? Ah, you can see it from up above. There is one big obstacle that keeps them from progressing into their bright future, and that obstacle is behind them. Strange that it could it block their path if it is behind them. But from up here, older generations might wish that their descendants could walk toward the future unencumbered by history.
In the last song, Greg was wishing he could wash his hands of ancestors and walk away, but now in this song he walks us back inside the complex love for family and the ties that bind. How can a life that was so unique and so real suddenly be so completely gone? Mom’s chair is empty. On the piano, Greg plays one note that hovers persistently in the home chord, and that note happens to be the most dissonant note in this key of all the 12 tones. Of course it makes the song beautiful, and by the time the trumpet arrives on that same strange note at the very end, it seems like the only right note to play.
The Good Man
I want to remember the subtle idea that is woven into this song. It’s the antidote to the common hopelessness that one small person can never change the big world. This song says that no love is wasted and that somehow the thousands of brave kindnesses of an ordinary life do actually change the world. It’s a whole different way to do the accounting of a humble life. With this song playing in my head, I would know that there is a wake we each leave behind that sends ripples from shore to shore all the way across this river of life. That’s an idea that has the power to help me “Get out of my own way.” Thanks Greg.
For the last waltz, here is a happy clever song to welcome a new life to the planet. A chance to notice the sweetness of life, with a smile to the ancestors about all the troubles that the next generation will inherit from us. Of all the events that a human life can hold, bringing a child into the world is a big one. There is a new life to shape, right there in your arms. Great possibilities. We are unqualified for the job of course, and yet we will just have to do. Here is tiny vulnerable helplessness – and huge powerful hope – looking right back at you.
A sacred sexy song of carnal bliss! Played on a Ukulele! Ahh. The perfect way to follow the last song. The melody is written like a dixieland classic, but the words are revealingly close and respectfully sensuous. No big ideas about changing the world in this song. Love is definitely big enough to change the world.”
Words & Music by: Greg Greenway
Produced by: Greg Greenway and Neale Eckstein
Engineered by: Neale Eckstein and Greg Greenway at Fox Run Studios and
Dave Schonauer at Morning Star Studios, Norriton, PA
Mixed by: Neale Eckstein and Greg Greenway at Fox Run Studios
Mastered by: Dave Schonauer at Morning Star Studios, Norriton, PA
Graphic Design: Greg Greenway
Photography: Neale Eckstein and Greg Greenway
Recorded at: Fox Run Studios and Morning Star Sudios
Greg Greenway: Guitar, Piano, Tenor Ukulele, Vocals, Percussion
Chico Huff: Bass and fantastic feel
Matt Scarano: Drums and the relaxed spine of this music.
Eric Lee: Otherworldly Violin
John Ragusa: Trumpet & Flugelhorm (check out John’s fabulous duo,
Fabio Pirozzolo: Percussion and positivity from all corners of the earth
Reggie Harris: Vocals and something no one else has
Tom Prasada-Rao: Vocals, violin, and pure palpable soul
Stephanie Corby: Vocals and the selfless voice-glue that made it all work
Matt Nakoa: Spiritual leader of the Snaps ‘N Claps Choir: Neale Eckstein,
Laurie Laba, and the reticent, yet pliable, Dianne Reed
of Dianne Reed Landscape Design in Millis, MA.
Thank You to everyone who made this all possible. I’m here because
somebody loved me. I can do what I love to do because others find it
valuable and give their homes, their time, and their hearts. In return,
I give everything I have. That’s the deal, that’s something worth doing.