On new album ‘Face the River,’ Gavin DeGraw celebrates “two really amazing people”: his parents

In Gavin DeGraw‘s first big hit “I Don’t Wanna Be,” he sang about being the son of a prison guard and a specialist. His new album Face the River was inspired by and pays tribute to the specialist and the prison guard: his parents Lynne and John Wayne DeGraw, who died in 2017 and 2020, respectively. But as Gavin notes, the album’s not a downer.

“This is no funeral march of a record,” Gavin tells ABC Audio. “This is actually me taking an opportunity to tip my hat to them and say, ‘Here’s some things you might not know about two really amazing people."”

“I want to memorialize them and celebrate them,” he adds. “These are my heroes. These are my real-life idols … These are the blue-collar warriors in my life who never complained, and did everything they could and made all the sacrifices that any two people could ever possibly make, so their kids could have a chance to go chase down their dreams.”

Because Face the River is so personal and organic, Gavin’s not expecting it to be a huge pop success — but that’s OK.

“This record wasn’t made to make money. It wasn’t written to have a bunch of hit songs on it …,” Gavin explains. “It’s … my best attempt to embody the most important people in my life and tell everyone how awesome they were, y’know? And all the cool stuff they did.”

In fact, Gavin literally had to rush to complete the album so his dad, who was fatally ill, could hear it before he passed.

“It was … very meaningful for me to get it done while my dad was alive … to show [him], ‘Look what I made for you,"” he explains. “I hope people like it, but my dad loved it. Y’know, that’s what counts.”

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