Thursday, April 15, 2010

Patty Griffin's coming to town ... finally

The first time I heard Patty Griffin sing When It Don't Come Easy I stopped dead in my tracks. It takes one memorable song these days to get me to stop what I am doing and devote 100 percent of my attention to the singer and the song. But Patty Griffin did that.

It was not my introduction to Patty Griffin.. That came in 1998 with the album Flaming Red and then in 2002 she recorded what many consider her masterpiece, 1000 Kisses. But it was the song When It Don't Come Easy off the album Impossible Dream that made me come to the conclusion that Patty Griffin was that finest female singer/songwriter to come along since ... well ... Sheryl Crow immediately comes to mind.

Griffin's appearance at the very first Austin City Limits Festival was the main reason I purchased tickets to that event even though I had sworn I would never ever again attend an outdoor pop music festival. I figured she would sing When It Don't Come Easy. I just hoped she could do it justice live. The moment she did sing it will live with me forever. It was transcendent, one of those rare times where a singer and a song transported me to a special place that is not of this earth.

I sincerely hope she sings that song again Friday night when she plays the House of Blues and I hope I'm there to hear it. (I haven't bought tickets yet -- mainly because I didn't get to mention the event to My Hero until tonight -- and I'm hoping there will be some available when I go to purchase them tomorrow.)

Patty Griffin should be more famous and more popular than she is, but there has never been real justice in the pop music world. Many people know of her because others, namely the Dixie Chicks (they recorded Truth #2 and Top of the World on their album Home and Let Him Fly on their album Fly.), Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Bette Midler have recorded her songs.

She was born March 16, 1964 in Old Town, Maine. She began writing songs at the age of 16 on a used Honer guitar she bought for $55. She formed her first band, Patty and the Executives, while still in high school. In 1985, after living briefly in Florida, she moved to Boston where she took guitar lessons from John Curtis of the Pousette-Dart Band. Curtis began booking her in small clubs in the Boston area in 1991.

She recorded a set of demos that attracted the attention of A&M records for which she made her first album, Living With Ghosts. She joined the Lilith Tour. moved to Nashville and began work on a second record, 1998's Flaming Red and the song One Big Love, which was my introduction to Griffin.

In 2000 she moved to Austin and two years later she released 1000 Kisses, her best collection of songs (Rain, Chief, Making Pies, Long Ride Home and others), which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category.

"I suspect Patty Griffin's songs make most people a little uncomfortable -- like they've just walked in on a private moment in someone else's life and they know they should turn around and tiptoe away, but they can't," singer/songwriter Steve Earle says. "They make me jealous."

Her most recent album, Downtown Church, so named because it was recorded at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn., is a collection of gospel songs that was produced by Buddy Miller, who will be opening for Griffin Friday at the House of Blues.

In July, Griffin and Miller will become members of Robert Plant's Band of Joy, which will tour the United States much the same way Plant did with Alison Krauss a few years ago.

1 comment:

colorado kool aid said...

I totally agree that Patty Griffin is a tremendous talent. She has a voice that singers usually dream of. I disagree with you about her best work -- which I say is her second album Flaming Red. I say an album with 2 songs over and over is a good buy. With 3 songs its a very good album, if you get 4 songs its a great album. With Tony, Goodbye, Blue Sky and Mary you have four great songs and some of her very best work. When it Don't Come Easy is truly a great "singer songwriter's" song -- great sound/melody and the lyrics are a novel. Likewise, 1000 Kisses is a great album as well -- just not quite as good as Flaming Red. Enjoy!