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For Classic Rock Legend Norman Greenbaum - There's Still Spirit in the Song at Americanafest
by Rich and Laura Lynch
When it comes to Americana music - there may not be a better artist to help define the genre melding category than classic rock legend Norman Greenbaum. Here was a young, Jewish folk singer from outside of Boston who traveled on faith to California searching for stardom in the biz. Inspired by a gospel number performed by country music icon Porter Wagoner he decided to try his hand at that specific form of song-writing. By combining a tale of the afterlife that speaks of Jesus featuring ample fuzz-box powered psychedelic guitar - the classic "Spirit In The Sky" was born.
Norman Greenbaum on stage at Nashville's Basement East during Americanafest 2019.
Greenbaum performed that track to a shocked and stunned packed house at the Basement East on Friday the 13th at Americanafest in Nashville with the help of the exceptionally capable Whiskey Wolves of the West and their talented friends. The extensive six day music festival now in its twentieth year continues to shine a bright light on what Nashville does best by featuring over 70 music venues and hundreds of official and unofficial performances that present Americana music in its vast variety of forms.
"Spirit In The Sky" was released in the year of Woodstock and the moon landing and remains one of rock music's most beloved "one hit wonders" although its creator did enjoy success with other well-received novelty tracks. The beloved "Canned Ham" was a favorite of Dr. Demento who played the song often through the years on his syndicated radio show. Norman took the stage eight songs in at the Americanafest "Tribute to 1969" and while he didn't ham it up the number did enjoy an extended run-through that received a great shout from the crowd upon its climatic completion.
It's arguable that no performer had a better Americanafest than Norman Greenbaum - the singer/songwriter with the track that hit the #1 spot in three separate decades by three different recording acts. In addition to his onstage appearance in East Nashville, Norman scheduled a photo shoot and four interviews including a high-profile slot on the Coffee, Cody and Country morning show that aired on 650 AM WSM and went out around the world via their website and landmark transmitting tower. He was even invited and introduced on stage at the Grand Ole Opry where the Saturday night attendees roared with their approval.
Norman Greenbaum is undergoing a career revival of sorts. He endured a painful recovery following a near fatal car crash in 2015 but his life-affirming spirit has returned along with an inspiring sense of adventure. The rocker is a new fan of Music City thanks to its focus on the importance of songs and their creators. In October he will be on hand as his hometown of Malden, MASS unveils a three story mural based on his most famous number. Then, he makes a return to the south in November for an appearance at the AMG Music Awards where he will don a tuxedo and sing "SITS" accompanied by an orchestra. Fifty years after creating the lucrative song that can be heard in dozens of movies and commercials it is great to see this kind and humble artist still enjoying his time down here on Earth. The sky can wait for now.
Norman Greenbaum on the Coffee, Cody and Country morning show in Nashville.
For more information on NORMAN GREENBAUM and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links --
Norman Greenbaum |
650 AM WSM