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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,dick.hamlet Obit: Craig Johnson, December 5, 2009. (40) RE: Obit: Craig Johnson, December 5, 2009. 11 Sep 10

I never met Craig in person -- I got no closer than the audience when he was performing -- but his songs are very important to me. I first heard someone else sing "Yew Pine Hills," and the singer mentioned "Willow Run" as a great song. Craig had an FSGW-sponsored concert where he sang his Michigan UP songs along with these two, and I was thoroughly hooked. I had a badly recorded tape of that concert and carried it with me. Craig had one of those voices I find hard to track -- just which note was that? (Garnet Rogers has another.) So I'd listen to a line, try to sing it, then listen again and see that I had it wrong. In 1982 I was commuting to work by bicycle. I'd play through the song before I set off for work, sing under my breath until I hit a hard spot, stop in traffic, fish out my cassette, find and play the line, and keep on. It must have taken two weeks of this to learn "Willow Run."

Some excellent songwriters are storytellers, some write tunes that stay in your head (maybe too well!), some are commenting on events. Craig did all of these, but I think he was primarily a poet. When he wrote something there was a shock of how perfectly it was said along with the sense. When I heard a song of his new to me, like "New Harmony" on the Payton's record, it was an event of major importance. Alas! We'll wait in vain for another song now.

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