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|Posted on October 7, 2013 at 12:39 PM|
Tonight’s Guest was Joe Grushecky. For 40 years, publications such as Billboard, Rolling Stone, Village Voice, No Depression, and countless others have hailed Joe Grushecky as one of Rock and Roll’s most talented Singer-Songwriters.
Joe Grushecky is now into a 44 year career writing and performing. He has produced at least 15 albums. He’s done a huge number of interviews, appearances and concerts. He writes the songs and the lyrics and, along the way, he forged a personal and professional friendship and musical collaboration with Bruce Springsteen. There is a documentary about his life called, “A Good Life: The Joe Grushecky Story.” He does this, all the while, living in the great city of Pittsburgh with his family, maintaining a long career teaching special-needs children, and by making a difference giving back to various charities. He continues to create mind-blowing, innovative, creative and thoughtful music.
While most interviews focus on fame and comparisons between Grushecky’s and Springsteen’s career, we talked about the life, times, and work of a great American artist. Joe Grushecky has made choices along the way that have allowed him an opportunity few great musicians are able to enjoy after their work is discovered. He made decisions that speak to his core and have allowed him to live a genuine life: He keeps his family close, he works in a field that is largely unheralded and the milestones are measured with small, sporadic, almost unnoticeable progress, and he plays his music. He unabashedly offers his music to the world and he spends a great deal of time giving back to everyday people in the community he loves.
He is lucky in a way--Grushecky’s perspective has remained truthful. His work is real and it is unclouded by the fame machine where prosperity and isolation make it impossible to walk the streets without the disruption of cameras, prying eyes, and fake friends who want something. Perhaps this is why his lyrics and his music speak so easily, so truthfully, and so personally about life’s rolling dynamic….His perspective is so real, so heartfelt, and so full of rock and roll swag that makes his music raw, authentic, and relevant.
Joe Grushecky is a true artist, owned by NO One, writing and playing at the highest level, producing music that has stood the test of time and yet evolves and simmers with the ebb and flow of life. I have been following Grushecky’s work for years and I adore this artist, his music, and his story. I was so excited to have him on my show-- The Great Pittsburgh Rock and Roller, the worlds finest, Joe Grushecky.
In the 70’s he was in the band The Iron City Houserockers—even then they were called “one of the best bar bands in America,” and “rock’s best kept secret.” Even then, with this acclaim, he maintained his privacy and autonomy. I believe this is the true secret to his music. I asked, “Was it a conscious decision to make choices that kept your life real? Was this planned from the beginning?” and he answered, “I had a family to support and that was my first priority—I needed to go to work every day to be sure I could take care of them. I also didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh. There is just something about the City. I want to live there, I don’t want to leave. That being said, I decided I would always play music. Music will always be part of my life. And I have remained true to that.”
When I was listening to his music, preparing for the interview, I started to feel like he was a kind of a Rock and Roll version of Country Music—his music is full of stories, feelings, and passages. He says he writes about what he knows and it comes out clearly in his music. You can see his life go by in his songs. His albums and subjects change as time moves on. When he said he had recently spent some time in Nashville, I wasn’t surprised. I would imagine the song pitchers and publishing companies would love to get a ‘hold of his catalogue. I believe we will be hearing Joe Grushecky covers for years to come.
The Nashville connection makes so much sense. He grew up in a coal mining family—poor but the house was always full of music. He says “I came by music honestly-- my father played just about everything, my Grandfather played the violin, my Mom was a beautiful singer. There was always music in the house. I was always playing something. We didn’t watch television….we played music and that’s where it comes from. Then, I was inspired by the Beatles. I picked up my first guitar at 16. It just went from there. “
I have heard the rock and roll experts compare Grushecky to Bob Seger and John Mellencamp, John Fogerty and Tom Petty. People say he was influenced by Creedence Clearwater and, of course, Bruce Springsteen. He says, “Springsteen “casts a big shadow” on my life, but it’s been a positive thing. It’s like playing baseball with Mickey Mantle or Roberto Clemente or playing football with Joe Montana. You work with one of the best and it makes you better. I think that speaks volumes about your own talent also.”
Grushecky’s song, “Code of Silence,” written with Bruce Springsteen was a big commercial success, winning a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Performance. It was fun hearing that Joe and Bruce sometimes hang out at various Pittsburgh bars and venues and play unannounced—what a thrill for the local Pittsburgh citizens. Can you imagine going out for a drink and having these two show up? That has to add yet another reason why the Pittsburgh hometown is so special.
Joe Grushecky is Pittsburgh loyal to the core. He said, “There is a soul to this town, it draws you in and you never want to leave it.” So he brings the talent in—Springsteen shows up sometimes for Pittsburgh benefits when Grushecky is involved: Fund Raising Concerts for flood victims, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, the Flight 93 Memorial and more— Rock and Roll for the people by the working class sons of two great American towns.
I find Grushecky to be kind of like Sinatra. I see him as an “I did it my way” kind of a guy. This independence is reflected in his music. I saw an interview once where he talked about writing and he said, “You have to write about what you know.” He said his song, “Beauty Fades” was written to remind people to “love the things that last—look underneath to find what is really important.” Then he wrote a piece called “Safe at Home” which was a father’s plea or prayer that his son comes safely home from war. He is a poet and a philosopher, in true rock and roll fashion.
Joe Grushecky will be introducing his new album, “Somewhere East of Eden” at a CD Release Party on October 12, 2013 at the Alter Bar—Strip District, 1620 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, 412-206-9719. The show starts about 10:00 PM. You can buy tickets at http://www.thealtarbar.com/
Also, you can see more performances at Joe’s website: www.joegrushecky.com @JoeGrushecky
Music is a family affair in the Gruscheky household. Everyone is involved. His son Johnny Grushecky @Johnny Grushecky plays with his band, his wife works helping to promote and schedule performances. Of note, Joe’s son is also a full-time musician with his own band and his music can be purchased at ITunes. Look for The Composure. Or Visit their website at www.thecomposure.com
To me, his life, his work and his commitment to music and family paint a picture of truth. His work is a love story-- an image of living a real and true life, unsheltered from artificial insulation and brown nosing want’a be’s. His carefully chosen life allows him to comment through his music on what is really going on…..There is nothing contrived about a Joe Grushecky piece. And, I think, this is why people understand and relate to his music. He gets up and goes to work every morning; he surrounds himself with real people; he helps people with true challenges that others just plain want to avert their eyes and forget. He writes great music AND he does very important work. So, to me he has lived a life worth singing about and the place he has chosen to reside gives him an ability to inspire individuals AND the masses. Well Done, Joe Grushecky. Well Done.
My opinion (and you know I have one J) @SherryFrazier
I once heard Bill Murray say, “For all you people who want to be rich and famous, I recommend that you just try being rich first and see how that goes before you throw the famous part into the mix. It is so refreshing to talk with such an accomplished, well respected, and connected artist who has not lost sight of what is really important. He understands and lives the concept, “We only have one life.” He is filling it to the fullest. And he is doing it his way.
When I was preparing for this interview, I started to become very tired of the questions about fame other reporters were asking him. They were turning the story around--making it seem that he should be more, putting him on the defensive. It made me furious. I was thinking as I read these crazy questions from the LALA land people who have bought in to a fake perspective of value and I am thinking---More than what? He has had a career of over 44 years, turned out at least 15 albums, he raises money for charity, collaborates and performs with buddy Bruce Springsteen, he uses his supernatural gift to help others in important work with forgotten children AND he has a wife he adores, a family he loves dearly and a city he proudly calls Home…..This artist is truly, the real deal. I have to say, if he was a race car, they would say he is pinging on all cylinders.
I hope everyone will support Joe Grushecky and buy his new album, “Somewhere East of Eden.”
I would be remiss if I did not mention the new artists I have been featuring every week on my show. These 16 year old musicians are like mad scientists—they go in a room for hours to lay down music. Sometimes they come out to eat but, more often, they come out with big grins, inspired. They are making it happen. And I am so proud. And, so lucky to hear new music being played out on the piano and microphone above my office as I work. So, yes—one of the musicians is my son, Grant Frazier. Enjoy!
I’d like to acknowledge the musicians responsible for my intro music titled, “Through the Night.” Arranged and produced by Ian Gallagher, music and lyrics by Grant Frazier, vocals by Grant Frazier @NotForGranted and the beautiful and talented Erin Taylor. Guitar work is by Ian Gallagher. @Thomas_Lansky
The show closed with a song called “Drowning in Tears”—music, lyrics, and vocals by a new artist Grant Frazier, and guitar work by Ian Gallagher.
Categories: Radio Show