56: Pat mAcdonald, Singer / songwriter
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Pat MacDonald grew up in a working class family in Green Bay, Wisconsin with no thought of going to college, but he came of age just as the students were marching on campuses all across the country.
He was a gifted songwriter early on and by the time he showed up in the post 60s hippy haze of Madison as a 19 year old musician, he was writing world class songs. He refers to himself at that time as a street urchin. But he was street smart, with a sharp tongue and wit to match it.
He stayed in Madison for a decade, waiting for a break that never came, though it threatened to a at least few times.
When Pat, along with his then wife Barbara moved from Madison to Austin, Texas – basically the only place weirder that they could go - they renamed themselves Timbuk3 and put out “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”.
That song, which is the reason Pat appears on all kinds of one hit wonder and where are they now lists was one of those classic misunderstandings between an artist and his audience. The chorus implied optimism and hope for the future, but the verses revealed a darker truth.
In recent years he has become an activist and song-festival creator in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He's also the owner of the Holiday Music Motel.
We spoke recently at his motel about inadvertently writing a hit song, the art of allowing circumstance to rule, the value of mishearing the world around you, the ideal hippy-to-punk balance, and the power of threes.
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