by Elias

It is more than Michael DeGreve’s voice that sings, it is his very soul exposed, unashamed for everyone to listen to. What strikes you at once about Michael, is his gentleness.

He was precisely on time for our interview. Wish I could say that about everyone! “ I really enjoyed “Cheyenne People Today,’” he smiled. “ I used to write. Wrote for the Los Angeles Times when I was right out of high school. I had played basketball in high school and was the sports editor for the city paper. I was in a bad automobile accident and couldn’t play ball anymore. So I wrote for the L. A. Times- pop reviews.

“ I was only 19 and getting a byline in the world’s second largest paper.”

Michael was obviously proud of that experience. “ I miss the energy there with the people I was working with,” he said. “ I worked with James Bassett, who wrote in Harm’s Way. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner. There was a great, great talent there so it was exciting to be around those kind of writers.”

Michael performs most evenings at the Hitching Post Lobby. Paul Smith brought him to the Hitch for a two week contract 12, years ago, and Michael never left. If his dozen years there Michael has only taken off nine weeks. “ I love my work,” he said with great sincerity in his voice. “ I love my life, and I love the people here.”

“ I came here after Frontier days in 1977, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Michael describes his style of singing as a throwback to the folk artists of the early 60’s. “I’m influenced by people like Crosby Stills and Nash, and the Eagles as well – pop rock, folk rock, and soft rock. It’s hard to put a label on it.”

‘ In early December I flew out to California and saw some of my favorite artist perform. Neil Young hosted a benefit show for cerebral palsy kids. Some of the performers included Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and many others.”

“ There wasn’t anyone on that stage who hadn’t sold at least 15, million records!” Michael exclaimed.

He was a late bloomer as far as his musical interests were concerned. “ Playing basketball was my main focus. I never picked up a guitar until my last semester in high school. It was really an accident.”

I shared a similar story with Michael. I was in the same class as Judy Collins at Denver’s East High School. Until then she was a piano student studying with Dr. Antonio Brico. It wasn’t until high school that Judy picked up a guitar and I had the pleasure of watching her perform for her very first time in East’s All School Show.

“ That’s amazing,” Michael said. “ Sweet blue eyes. I bet she had that voice even then. My favorite writer, and Judy does a lot of her songs, is Joni Mitchell.”

Michael continued his story. “ Well I graduated in 1966 and was flying around the country trying to decide which basketball scholarship to accept. But, purely by accident I picked up a guitar and learned a few chords. I was greatly influenced by Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I discovered that it was great fun. I loved it. “ Then by a twist of fate, I was not able to play ball anymore. One of the fellows I worked with at the Times had a band and I began playing with it. I became a late 60’s dropout. I decided not to go back to college, I quit my job at the Times and joined a rock ‘n’ roll band. I did all the 60’s things.”

Michael lives in many describe as a beautiful home 20 miles north of town. “ I love it nine months out of the year,” he said, laughing, but three months of the time it becomes pretty desolate. You know what the winds can be like.”

Michael is no longer married. He was in the early 70’s and interestingly, Graham Nash is now married to Michael’s ex-wife, Susan Sennett. Michael met her on the Ozzie and Harriet T V show in which she was a co-star. Michael performed in a couple of episodes and in one actually got to marry Ozzie and Harriet in a renewal of their vows or their 40th anniversary.

Michael spent a lot of time with Ozzie in the last year of his life. “ You’d never meet a greater or more humble man,” Michael said.

“ Well tell me about your new album,” I said. “ I’m really excited about it,” Michael said, leaning forward on his chair. “ People have been waiting a long time! The main release will be about the time this column appears.” “ The album is called Gypsy’s Lament .” It will be on our own label and distributed regionally. We Haven’t signed with a major label yet. We’re using tremendous people – Graham Nash, Randy Meisner of the Eagles, Leland Sklar, who did every James Taylor album, and David Linley.”

Michal has written songs for the album, including Ground Zero, which is a song about the MX Missile. “I live north of a silo which I look at outside my kitchen window. I received clearance and spent a day down in the capsule with the guys on duty. The song actually begins with the launch codes.”

The album also includes the song Silver Lining, which Michael wrote three years ago for the devastating flood that hit Cheyenne. Neil Young, Saw Mill Creek, and Michael gave the Silver Lining benefit concert to assist the flood victims.

Michael performs at the Hitch, theoretically, until 11:30 pm, but is often there until 01:30am or later. When he returns home he composes music until sunrise and then sleeps only until the crack of noon.

He composed his first song, The Wise Old Fool, when he was 18, about his grandmother’s husband.

“ He had Parkinson’s and nobody wanted to be bothered by him,” Michael recalled. “ One day I sat down with him. Whew! If you want to sit down with a man in his 90’s and pick his brain. He can tell you a few things.”

More About Michael DeGreve: