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Best Baseball Songs Ever: Greg Brown – Laughing River

April 15, 2011

Greg Brown – Laughing River (1992)

We’re always told that if we work hard enough, we’ll achieve your goals. But sometimes that’s not the way it goes down. Hard work and dedication doesn’t always pay off. In baseball, as in life, not only do you have to be good to succeed, but you also have to get the opportunity to prove yourself. Some guys don’t live up to the chance when they get it, while some guys don’t ever get the chance at all.

“Laughing River” is a devastatingly beautiful song about a career minor leaguer who, after twenty years, is finally ready to give up on the dream of making it to the big leagues. He’s going to trade his bat for a fly fishing pole. “I’m going away because I got a busted heart,” he sings. But while his baseball dreams may not have come true, our narrator isn’t defeated. Instead of the big leagues, now he has his sites set on a better life along Michigan’s Laughing River.

This song guts me each time I hear it, not because of the sadness of giving up, but because in the face of failure, our narrator has the optimism to see a better future down the line. His resilience is an inspiration. It’s easy to become bitter as we face our failures, to look for scapegoats, to search for answers that might explain why we fell short, while others – surely less talented – succeeded. This song’s narrator, though, doesn’t play that game. He doesn’t second-guess himself; he’s just ready to move on. He has a new dream and the fact that it’s along the Laughing River suggests that our narrator understands that while the world may laugh at our dreams, as long as we look optimistically to the future, we get the last laugh, for it is our dreams that keep us alive.

Buy the album here.


Greg Brown – Laughing River MP3

(song begins :47 seconds in)

One Comment leave one →
  1. MaliceJMS permalink
    June 20, 2018 11:42 am

    Great song. I was actually listening to it and searched the Laughing River and saw your article. I’m a big Greg Brown fan.

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