MUSIC | Nigel Egg sings about Home Depot, smoking pot, and black people at the door


Singer-songwriter Nigel Egg is a talented humorist who doesn’t bend over backward to take himself too seriously. “I write songs,” he says, “about stuff I know, feel, sense personally and also about what my friends and family tell me. I never had a hellhound on my trail and I’ve never worked on a killing floor, but what I do sing about is real, and that comes through in the performance. Okay, some things are made up, but when you write a song, you can’t let the facts get in the way of the truth.”

It’s that offhand attitude that characterizes his album Big Bang Baby Boom as he goes about playing nicely understated blues guitar and harmonica, singing lowkey. For “The Birds and the Bees and the Bud,” he laments tongue-in-cheek, “What should I tell the kids about smoking pot/ Just say no/ Yeah, right, but what else have I got/ Should I say I never tried or admit I smoked a lot?”

Egg has won multiple awards from organizations like the Minnesota Folk Festival and the Austin (Texas) Songwriters Group. He’s also won honors at the Great River Festival (LaCrosse, Wisconsin) and the Highway 61 Folk Festival (Mahtowa, Minnesota), and placed a prestigious second at the Telluride (Colorado) Blues and Brews festival’s Acoustic Blues Competition. So it’s a documented matter of public knowledge that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to putting a song together and delivering it to an audience.

For some reason, he feels free in his songs to reduce black people to being objects instead of human beings. His number “Black Man at the Door”—the fact that Egg went out of his way to bring this particular one to my attention speaks to his insensitivity—finds sport in a scenario that has a man comfortably sitting in his living room waiting for a black man to have enough sense to go away and stop knocking on a suburban white man’s door, expecting someone to actually go see what he wants. Well, having talent is no guarantee you’re going to respect people’s sensibilities.

The songs on Big Bang Baby Boom by and large are deft little ditties finding the lighthearted side of everyday life. “Going to the Home Depot” has lines like, “You hugged me in the shower/ The one I built brand new/ You kissed me in the kitchen/ I remodeled just for you/ But now you just act cool/ When I build you something new/ Tell me what you really want/ And I’ll go buy the tools/ I’m going to Home Depot one more time.” Then there’s “I Wish I Knew Where Katie Was”; any parent can relate to the nerve-racking anxiety of I-hope-she-gets-home-in-one-piece-so-I-can-kill-her waiting for your teenager to finally decide to show up at whatever hour in the late night or early morning.