For Tom Gray, the song that best sums up his career is one he wrote himself, "Money Changes Everything." If the title could be extended for further accuracy, it might come out something like "The Song 'Money Changes Everything' Changed Everything." Fans of singer Cyndi Lauper will recognize the ditty, just as much as anyone tuned into the early days of MTV and the radio hits of 1984 would remember it. The song actually originated in the early '80s, when Gray commanded a band called the Brains from his position behind the keyboards.
Swept up in the hunt for hit new wave bands during that period, the Mercury label picked the Brains. A pair of major-label releases didn't turn on any light bulbs commercially, but the musically adventurous Lauper wound up picking up on one of the tracks, "Money Changes Everything," for her hit album She's So Unusual. In the midst of this, the Brains had already disbanded. Gray's song went on to be covered by performers such as Carlene Carter and Manfred Mann yet the success did not in the end define Gray stylistically. He pulled a change in the '90s by starting up a combo entitled Delta Moon that specialized not in pop but in authentic Delta blues.
Visitors to Gray's studio would also find him sitting not at a keyboard but in a chair with a steel guitar on his lap. The transition came about when Gray moved to Nashville following the success of the Lauper recording. While his original idea had been to become a songwriter in that town, what wound up happening was the development of a deep interest in more traditional styles. Delta Moon had won the first prize in an international blues competition. This is an example of a group that has pushed ahead in terms of popularity despite absolutely no effort to be commercial or even promote itself. Indeed, the band was formed after Gray became a stay-at-home father desiring a musical project that would supposedly go no farther than the neighborhood bar scene.