Greg Holden brings a song of hope to Nashville
New York based Singer/Songwriter Greg Holden is coming to Nashville this Sunday for the Lightning 100 Nashville SundayNight. Held at 3rd and Lindsley, Nashville Sunday nights have featured some of the best independent artists there are. In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see Frank Turner, Alyssa Bonagura, Elle King, and even Martina McBride by this wonderful Sunday Night tradition. Greg Holden will be a great addition to that list, I have no doubt. During our exclusive interview, we discussed growing up, what it was like getting started in music, his new song/project, and what we need to be ready for come show time.
Greg Holden was born in Scotland to a working class family. They moved to England during his teenage years. Growing up in that environment, he said, was either fight or flight. “School was a lot of fighting and bullying, and just a lot of crap. It’s really what led me to get into music in the first place. It [helped] the need to rebel, get out and just get away from all that was going on. I listened to a lot of punk, listened to a lot of metal. I was in bands for a long time until I realized that lyrics were the most important thing for me. I really wanted to say something important, and something powerful. I realized the only real way to do that was to sing.”
You can hear that in his very poignant lyrics. In his songs, every word has deep emotion. His first major success as a songwriter was with Phillip Phillips’ mega-hit, "Home." In the first few lines, it just leads you into a very loving place. We all know the song very well, but if you listen to the lyrics, you hear the care this person has for the person they are talking to. A lot of people have a lot of different meanings for that song, and that isn’t by accident.
“I had a friend who was going through a really tough time then…”
I interrupted him at that point, because I had always wondered who it was originally written about, whether it be a friend or a significant other, saying that the song could be taken in so many different ways. He explained why that was.
“Of course, yeah, I didn’t want to make it so personal that someone couldn’t relate to it or take it another way. For me, it was about someone going through a really tough time. The song was always supposed to be a simple way of saying to someone ‘I’m here for you, don’t do anything stupid.’ At the time of writing it, I had no idea what would happen with it. It was such a crazy experience.”
That crazy experience debuted at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a major success. In terms of American Idol, a coronation song is the first single an American Idol winner releases. This was the biggest selling coronation song in the history of the show selling over 5 million copies. The US Olympic women’s gymnastics team used it as their theme song. The song is still everywhere four years later.
Holden’s new single, "Boys In The Street," is even more touching than "Home." It tells the story of a father and son who are coming to terms with the son’s sexuality. The father is, at first, very cold and unfeeling to the son, telling him to “…stop kissing boys in the street.” The song goes on and tells the story of their journey to acceptance. The video, available online and highly recommended, uses mannequins to tell the story.
Holden isn’t gay, but says the inspiration for the song came from his relationship with his own step-father. “Although I’m not gay, I did live in an environment where I felt unaccepted. I felt judged. I felt like I couldn’t really free myself from the grasps of someone who was trying to tell me how to be. So, I was able to combine my feelings from my own personal experience, but also friends of mine who are gay, actually friends who run an organization called Everyone Is Gay, they asked me to write a song for them. When I sat down to write it, I did think about these things. ‘Ya, know I’m not gay so how do I come at this from an angle that’s not preachy or ignorant.’ Ya know? So I felt it was a valid source of inspiration for me to tap into my relationship with my stepfather.”
In a community where we so many of us are not accepted and feel judged in our families, the song brings comfort. Coming out is a turbulent time in anyone’s life. Our families can shift, our friends can forsake us, but when you hear this song, with the eventual understanding and acceptance to “…keep kissing boys in the street” you will have your hope renewed for a brighter future.
So many of us in the gay community have this struggle of acceptance, especially in the South. These family issues are deeply personal and all too familiar. This song will renew your spirit and will make you believe in brighter tomorrows. The chance for you to hear it live should not be passed up. That opportunity is coming this Sunday. Buy your tickets, and I’ll see you at the show. Bring tissues!