It was on a Gaither video about eighteen years ago that I first saw the face of Buddy Greene and heard his finesse on a harmonica. I never forgot that, and now Buddy’s CDs are some of the most listened to in my music collection. His messages strike a wonderful balance between encouraging and admonishing as he exhorts believers on to good works and to remember their first love. The Church needs more music like his that spurs us onward and upward. His presentation is always far above par and it is obvious that he feels great responsibility in putting his best foot forward to make the Gospel musically appealing to his audience.
I’ve attended several Buddy Greene concerts in my life and I’ve always left blown away by his talent and lifted up by the Spirit that I felt there. Check out his website to find out when he’ll be coming your way, “Like” him on Facebook, join his mailing list, get his music, and much more at www.BuddyGreene.com!
Miles: You obviously have a broad taste in music and because of that, someone listening to your CDs or attending your concerts never gets bored. So, if we were to see Buddy Greene just sitting around listening to music, what artists would we be likely to hear playing in the background?
Buddy: You might hear some Doc Watson, or something instrumental like old time or Celtic fiddle music, or something classic like Stevie Wonder (i.e. Songs in the Key of Life) or the Beatles or Paul Simon. I really enjoy Fernando Ortega, Andrew Peterson, Andy Gullahorn, Sara Groves. Sometimes I’ll pull out some old country like George Jones or Jerry Reed. A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning up the office and put in Beethoven’s 9th. You’re right – it’s all over the map!
Buddy: I enjoy running and golf, especially solitary golf. Both of these pastimes allow me time to myself and to exercise, which I’m never getting enough of on the road.
I think I would have enjoyed teaching, which I get to do from time to time in ways related to my work (songwriting, harmonica workshops, etc…).
Miles: I know with my concerts and traveling, I could not begin to do it without the support and love of my wife, Martha. There is an amazing amount of teamwork needed and sacrifices made in order to successfully travel on the road full-time. Tell us about your wife Vicki and about your family.
Buddy: Vicki and I have been married 30 years and we have two grown daughters, one who is married and the other in college. Vicki has been the ideal mate. I think, because of the way she sets priorities, especially when it comes to our home, community, and raising our girls, I’ve been less inclined to get caught up in my preoccupations, i.e. music, career. In other words, because of her example, I’ve worked harder to be more present as a husband and father.
Miles: Who is your favorite songwriter? And my wife wanted me to ask who your favorite author is. What’s a book that you just couldn’t put down? And what’s your favorite song that you have written and why?
Buddy: I have so many favorite songwriters it’s hard to just name one, so here’s a few: Lennon and McCartney, Jimmy Webb, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. I love great melody writers like Mancini, Bacharach, McCartney, Jimmy Webb. From the list you could probably tell I’m amazed at songs like Wichita Lineman, Eleanor Rigby, and Alfie.
When it comes to non-fiction writing, I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis, Eugene Peterson, N.T. Wright. I love the writing of Wendell Berry, both fiction and non-fiction. His Jayber Crow really grabbed me. I also love Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. I really don’t spend much time with contemporary fiction, although I know I’m missing a lot of great stuff. I have a list of old books that I’ll never finish, so they’re the ones I reach for first.
Well I like “Mary, Did You Know” for obvious reasons, it being the most popular thing by far that I’ve ever written (thank you, Mark). But I also think it’s a really good marriage of melody and lyric. Also in that category I would put “I Don’t Belong” and “O The Precious Blood of Jesus”, both written with Gloria Gaither. “Grace For The Moment”, written with Tricia Walker, because it’s reminded a lot of people in rough circumstances that God’s grace is always sufficient. There are a few I never get tired of performing, like “Recovering Pharisee.” And then there are some that were written and recorded and hardly ever get performed for various reasons like “Man Against Man” or “Kingdom Hymn”.
Miles: As long as you’ve been on the road and in music, I’m sure you have more stories to tell than could fit into a set of encyclopedias. Tell us one of those funny moments. Also, what has been the greatest challenge you have faced as an artist and minister of the Gospel?
Buddy: I have many that are unprintable. Seems like the best ones always include some sort embarrassment. I once was the opening act for an attack dog. On another occasion, an insect dive-bombed up my nose during mid-song.
I think the John the Baptist axiom “I must decrease that He may increase,” is probably as hard a thing there is to keep in mind for a people who work in platform ministry. It’s really hard not to love applause, compliments, and all the things that make Buddy increase. But that reminds me of a funny story…
I once had a teenager approach me (this was about 10 years ago) and when he recognized me as the guy who had been on the stage earlier in the evening, exclaimed “Wow, you’re the guy that was up there playing and singing.”
He then went on to rave about my guitar playing and harmonica playing and songwriting. “How long have you been playing guitar?”
“40 years,” I replied.
“How long have you been playing harmonica?”
“30 years,” I replied.
“Wow! Did you write all those songs?”
“Yes, most of them.”
By this time I was feeling pretty good about how I was growing in this young man’s estimation, until he finally said, “Wow, why aren’t you successful?”
Buddy: To stay true to who I am as an artist, it’s come from several places. Bill Gaither once told me, “Just keep doing what you do Buddy”, and Charlie Peacock has been another one to encourage me to not worry about radio formats or current trends, or any of the other things that would distract me from staying focused on the kind of music I like to make.
There have been many verses over the years, currently, Psalm 116: 8, 9 are verses I return to. “For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living”.
Miles: Give me a Twitter sized thought that you would like the readers need to take to heart.
Buddy: Having never tweeted, I’m not sure I can confine myself to a Twitter sized thought, although one of the greatest of pithy statements I’ve ever heard came in the last line of a Wendell Berry poem: “practice resurrection.” Of course, in order to appreciate the last line, one needs to read the whole poem, and it won’t fit a tweet. The poem, by the way, is entitled “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”.
Buddy Greene brings a wide variety of southern Americana influences to his music to create a unique musical hybrid of country, bluegrass, folk, gospel and traditional blues. In addition to his solid reputation as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, Buddy has established himself as one of Nashville’s finest harmonica stylists. His live concerts are equal parts hymn singing, jam session, church house revival, and journey through his own musical history. Among his long list of notable achievements, Buddy has collaborated with Mark Lowry to write “Mary, Did You Know,” which quickly became a modern-day Christmas standard.
Buddy Greene Website: www.BuddyGreene.com
Buddy Greene Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/buddy.greene.77
Did you enjoy this issue of Artist to Artist? Email Miles Pike today at email@example.com
First published on SGM Radio website in June 2013. For current features visit http://www.sgmradio.com/