Meg Braun is an instrumental (pardon the pun) figure in the NYC world of singer-songwriters. She’s one of the encouraging voices who helped steer a weekly gathering of songwriters who would get together and work on their craft (and often share chips and dip). She’s been touring with several of those same songwriters doing a tribute of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album….but this year she’s joined forces to pay homage to the legendary Carole King.
To learn more about Meg Braun, visit her website.
Check out this video featuring Meg.
I happen to know that you’re as jazzed about running marathons as you are about your music. How did you get the running bug? And what’s your best time? Do you have any more races coming up?
I actually got the running bug when I couldn’t get into a spin class, had just gone through a nasty break-up, and needed to work out. So, instead of diving into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I dropped my bags into a locker and just went outside and ran. I think I maybe went a mile that first time out, but it was satisfying so I kept at it. I do find that running also feeds my creativity and songwriting in a way that other forms of exercise never have. Being out there for a few miles clears my mind and generates ideas. I don’t listen to music when I run, so I often work on song ideas when I am out there.
I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2012, when New York’s was cancelled. I finished it in 5 hours and 45 minutes, though I had hoped to finish in under 5 hours. But my motto with running is that it is not about how fast you go, it only matters that you cross the finish line. I ran the NY marathon in 2013 and I just signed up for 2014…and will once again be raising $$ for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center with Fred’s Team. In addition, I signed up for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon–my favorite 1/2 and it’s in my home borough!
Your songwriting is described as “fearless.” Does that mean that your songs are about topics that have previously not been attempted or that your instrumentation knows no bounds?
I think the fearlessness in my songwriting is not so much topic related, as it is that I am not afraid to tell the truth in my songs, even if it is a hard thing. My song “All Along” is about a hoped for reconciliation of old friends, where the narrator is the one who allowed time away hurt the friendship and knows that she is responsible. I think when my songwriting was described as fearless, it was referring to writing about the uncomfortable things within ourselves, and not compromising on the honesty that it takes.
I love that your first CD Tomboy Princess includes literary allusions to folk stories and fables and yet the songs are very contemporary at the same time. Did you consciously decide to write songs with that kind of motif?
I did. As a little girl, I loved fairy tales and folk stories. When I started getting serious about my songwriting, this was a “way in” for me to write about what I knew, while adding my own ideas to these old tales. I liked the idea of turning the fairy tale upside down. Why can’t the princess save the prince?
How would you compare your newest CD, Broken Places to Tomboy Princess?
Well, Tomboy Princess took me 5 years to make and I am pretty sure I made every mistake you can make when you produce your own CD! Broken Places was produced by Tom Prasada-Rao, and we made the CD in a week! But I think the topics addressed are quite different between the two projects. Tomboy Princess focused a lot on my childhood and growing up. It was my first batch of songs that were written when I was learning how to write a song. Broken Places is, at its core, about grieving and healing. It is a “break-up” CD in some sense, but also about finding strength in the “broken places.” I feel the topics there are more adult by comparison.
What Carole King songs are your favorites and why?
I am not sure if I have any specific favorite Carole King songs–sometimes on a given day, that song will change. Like many, I am most familiar with her Tapestry album. Today, “Way Over Yonder” hit home for me, but most often, “So Far Away” is the one that gets to me…maybe because I am starting to tour more and more.
What kind of impact did Carole’s songs have on you as a songwriter?
I think the impact of Carole King’s songwriting comes out more in my approach to writing songs, than any direct influence on my sound. She started her career writing songs for others to sing. Now, when I write, I often think “Is this a song that someone else could sing or would want to sing?” I guess, in essence are my songs that kind of songs that can transcend my own experience and reach others. Her songs do that in such an intimate way, and that is definitely something I strive to do.
What is next for you?
Next up, I am about to embark on a new recording. I may not release the new CD until early 2015, but I am so excited about this batch of new songs. I am doing my best to keep most of the details under wraps for now though. These new songs are, in many ways, very different from what I released on my past two recordings.