In Loving Memory of Greg Brayton
Every Sunday at 2 PM Eastern, the Mosen Explosion radio show opens with a really cool music bed for me to talk over. It’s been that way since 2002, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
When I moved the show out of the Sunday slot on ACB Radio Interactive, and needed a title that didn’t have “Sunday” in its name, I came up with the title Mosen Explosion, and wanted a theme that captured the essence of the show.
Of course, I went to Greg Brayton. Greg had been working with me on ACB Radio, which I directed and founded, in a number of capacities. It was an incredible thing, talking with Greg, describing the upbeat show I wanted to create, and almost hearing his brain ticking over as he sang little fragments. You could tell that he was hearing the tune forming in his head as we were talking, and I knew something really memorable was coming.
When I moved the Blind Line show to ACB Radio after I set the station up, we needed some music to play a few minutes before the show started as I got the live talk show set up and people tuned in. I could have used a different instrumental every time, but I wanted only a small number of tunes to be used, so it would be kind of like the interval signals you heard on shortwave radio. The piece we used most of the time was an instrumental version of a really jazzy, catchy tune written by Greg, called “Favorite Fantasy”.
I introduced a tradition where the ACBRI team would record a Christmas song every year, I believe it was 2001 when we decided to do “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Greg decided we needed a rockin’ good Christmas, and produced a really raunchy, grungy music bed for us to sing over. Boy, we really rocked it that year, thanks to Greg and his incredible playing. He played every instrument.
Greg hosted a number of shows on ACB Radio Interactive during the early days, including a wonderful jazz show. It introduced me to so much great American music, and also enthused his audience about the musicianship involved, and the stories behind the artists.
His other show I recall vividly, Studio Time, featured some of the artists he’d produced in his studio. Some of them were incredibly quirky and fun.
There’s so much that can be said about Greg the composer, Greg the singer, Greg the producer, Greg the guitarist, Greg the production engineer. There’s no doubt that he was truly gifted, and an inspiration to many who’ve followed in his footsteps.
But it’s Greg the man, Greg the proud husband and dad, Greg with his generosity of spirit and profound humanity, that has left so many of us grieving today.
Greg wrote some wonderful songs, but the one that touched my heart deeply, when I first heard it as a young father, was his song “Wish You Could See”. It’s about how sometimes his young boys and his buddies said they wished he could see, and how he would reassure them all that it really wouldn’t change anything, that blindness didn’t have any kind of negative impact on the way they cared about one another. And in the last verse, he talked about the absolute unconditional acceptance his wife had for Greg, and his blindness. As I think about the song, and its breath-taking frankness and beauty, it brings me to tears over 14 years after I heard it for the first time. When I organised the entertainment for the ACB 40th anniversary banquet in 2001, it was my pleasure to ask him to perform the song. He did. Just him and the guitar. It was stunningly beautiful, and the sniffles coming from the audience made its impact very clear.
Greg also had a wicked sense of humour. Before that big 40th anniversary banquet, we were all rehearsing for the big event, and Greg played a little song he penned in the name of his more uproarious alter ego, Gary Bartell. It’s a perfectly innocent little song…unless of course you have your mind in the gutter, which most of us do at one time or another. Called “On the Brain”, the song had everyone preparing for the banquet stopping to listen. By the time he’d finished it, a large crowd had gathered and gave him a huge round of applause.
Greg’s Christian faith was unwavering, and very important to him. He had been battling cancer for many years, and would sometimes send out email updates. In all of them, he would always affirm his faith, and be grateful for the time he had. Whether you share his faith or not, we can all learn from the way Greg loved life, and lived life, as if every day counted, because he knew that it did.
Greg, you touched so many lives for the better. You left the world a better place. As a capable blind person, a loving dad, a fine musician and a thoroughly decent guy, you inspired many of us. It was my great privilege to have come to know you. You live on through your kids, your legacy, and your wonderful, wonderful music. Thank you so much for all you gave to us.