David Grier Enlists Bluegrass Greats on 'Dust Bowl Dream': Premiere

Scott Simontacchi
David Grier

David Grier recruited some of the top names in bluegrass for “Dust Bowl Dreams,” premiering exclusively below, from the Americana/bluegrass veteran's March 29 album, Ways of the World.

Featuring Bryan Sutton, Tim O'Brien, Stuart Duncan and Casey Campbell, "Dust Bowl Dream" is also notable as one of the first songs Grier has recorded with vocals. An acolyte of Bill Monroe (his father Lamar Grier was one of Monroe's Bluegrass Boys), Grier was primarily an instrumentalist before this, working in the bluegrass band Big Dogs before going solo in 1988. He started singing as part of his Helen Highwater String Band and decided to try it out for his 15th solo record.

"It's like a brand-new thing for me to do out there," says Grier, who will celebrate the album’s release, on his own Dreadnought Records, with an April 2 performance at Nashville's Station Inn. "I'm not Pavarotti or anything -- but then neither is Bob Dylan,” he says. “I haven't really studied singing or anything like that. I don't want to sing like an opera singer, but, y’know, if you write a song and give it to somebody, they're going to interpret it through their filter. If you want your song done the way you want, then it's best you do it yourself.”

The song came about as part of a barroom bet Grier made with songwriting friends when they decided to see who could write the best song with the losers buying the winner’s drinks. "I had no intention of writing a song, absolutely none," he recalls. "I figured I'd just buy some friends a couple of drinks. I figured I owed it to them, anyway, somewhere down the line."

His plans changed, however, when he came up with a melody a couple of days later as he sat in the airport in the wee hours."I started thinking, 'This is a lonesome melody. What's a lonesome subject? Well, the dust bowl's lonesome.' I just wrote the words down.When I finally got to my destination I got my guitar out and I played the song and finished it up." Grier won the bet, "because no one else wrote a song,” he says. “I could've showed up with anything and still won. But I think this is a good song, anyway."