Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Patty Griffin songs.

While my love for Tori earlier this month was brought up by a random listening of a song, the random swelling love I'm feeling for Patty Griffin today was brought on by Jill (from Looks & Books) and her man getting a new dog (yay doggies!) named Chief. Not only is this a great dog name, it's also one of my very favoritest Patty Griffin songs, and today as I was crossing a street downtown it popped into my head and I haven't been able to get it out.

I listened to Patty a lot in undergrad; I saw her quite a few times in Boston. Going to a Patty Griffin concert was a magical, religious experience for me. She's this little thing with bright red curly hair and then she busts out this voice with all this emotion and it so so shocking and wonderful. One of those, "How does that come out of a white girl?" type of voices. I went to a lot of these concerts by myself, in the old crumbling Orpheum, and I'd sink into the creaky, wearing red velvet seats and let her voice wrap around me like a folks-y blues-y cocoon.

The last Patty album I bought was Children Running Through. I think she's come out with more since then, whenever that was, but her music has progressed steadily to more true gospel-y, blues-y type stuff, a rich musical tradition which I admire and which I love seeing live, but which, let's be honest, I don't listen to much on a day to day basis. Even five or so years ago at those concerts, as she started to sing more jazz-y soul type of things, you could tell there were those hardcore-folk peeps who just wanted to hear her first bare-boned-folk record, Living With Ghosts, so bad, because anytime she played a song from it (which wasn't terribly often) everyone freaked the hell out with their screaming. Listen. Us dyke-y people just can't help ourselves.

I haven't listened to a full Patty album all the way through for even longer. But there are a few gems of songs of hers that I will always just love to death, that I would sing at open mics if I had myself a pretty voice and could play the guitar (well).

PS. I've never actually watched a video for a Patty Griffin song until this very moment, and it actually feels pretty weird. So I would recommend just listening to the music, because that's what I've always done.

1. Chief

Chief is a wonderful storytelling song, which I think is why I like it so much, because I like me a good storytelling song so much. I love the first guitar strums and the first verse, and then how those guitar strums repeat and kick it up a notch little by little after each subsequent verse, especially at around 1:40. Also this line:

I don't really know what I'm doing
just watching myself in some play
and the actress looks like she wants to go home
and lie in her bed all day.

Who hasn't felt like that? And then the hippie-ish soaring bridge at just about 2:00, where she sings:

And I wish that you could see me
when I'm flying in my dreams
The way I laugh there, way up high
The way I look when I fly
The way I laugh
The way I fly

The way she draws out laaauuuuuuughhh and flllllllyyyyyy! And then back to that jubilant guitar! So wonderful! Enough to make the vulnerable, melodramatic Jill want to cry forever, while also feeling really empowered and happy!

2. Making Pies

Okay, so Making Pies is actually Patty's best storytelling song, and one of the best storytelling songs ever made. It tells the story of an old lady who has survived all of life's trials and tribulations and, as her constant all the way through it, made pies. It sounds so simple! The simple things always make me cry the most! It also reminds me of my mom a little, which makes me want to cry even more! Oh my god, this song makes me want to cry foreverrrrr! I know I just said that about Chief, but I lied a little, because this song REALLY makes me want to cry forever. It's all just so vaguely sad and lovely sounding and so full of a life well-lived! Gah!

The little snippets of this woman's life just absolutely kill me.
Did I show you this picture of my nephew, taken at his big birthday surpise at my sister's house last Sunday? This is Monday, and I'm making pies.
Did I show you this picture of my sweetheart, taken of us before the war? Of the Greek and his Italian girl, one Sunday at the shore? 

(followed by this entirely haunting line)

We tied our ribbons to the fire escape. They were taken by the birds who flew home to the country, as  the bombs rained on the world.


Patty then sums up Life in the last line.

You could cry, or die, or just make pies all day. I'm making pies.


Oh, sorry! I was busy sobbing.

Also, if you're into indie blonde British lady singers, there's a link to a live cover of Making Pies by Ellie Goulding & Lissie at the end of the YouTube clip.

3. Useless Desires

Oh dear. What a sad song. It starts with Patty saying goodbye to a place that clearly was not good to her/the narrator of the song. 

Say goodbye to the old street that never cared much for you anyway. Different colored doorways you thought would let you in one day.

Sometimes, you live in a hard place and it treats you hard even if it treats other people nicely. And sometimes you surround yourself with people who treat you hard, too. And sometimes you know you gotta go.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye old friend, I can't make you stay. I can't spend another ten years wishing you would, anyway.

This song is basically a bunch of mournful, beautiful poetry about being in a place you don't want to be and wanting better for yourself. It is heart-breaking.

The sky turns to fire against the telephone wires. And even I'm getting tired of useless desires.

That is a great line.

Oh, Patty.


4. Top of the World




5. You Never Get What You Want

I can't find a video of this song aaanywhere that isn't a cover. Which actually makes me kind of angry. So. I don't know. The best I could do was this widget, even though it only plays a clip. So. I don't know. Just buy it or something, because it's a damn good song. And after all that weeping, I thought it'd be good to end on an angry note. Because who doesn't love some good anger! And this is pretty much as angry as Patty gets.

This song basically tells that person who's a real crankypants who takes out their anger on their significant other and/or other people--listen, STFU. It's not my damn fault you never get what you want, and I'm not going to take the blame for it anymore. In other words, it is a great song to sing along loudly to in the car if you're needing that sort of thing.

I also love how she pronounces so many parts of this song, with this very deliberate kind of twang that doesn't show up in most of her songs. (Although the lady is from Texas, so don't worry, it's no forced kind of twang.)  
You never get what you want, and I don't think it's my fault. You never get what you want, do you, baay-beh?

That bay-beh is so good! And I love the way her voice just cascades down so naturally and wonderfully at the end of every "want" in the chorus. So, so good.

Honorable Mention: Rain

I wasn't going to mention this one because I already had my five, but the animation in this video is just so lovely that I HAD to include it. Darn.

I know you all get the picture by now that Patty can sing some pretty damn sad-sounding songs, and this is yet another one. And when you're not in the mood for it, sometimes it can be a bit much. Like, LISTEN, I GET IT, IT'S RAINING A LOT, OKAY. But when you're feeling sad and are just needing a sad-sounding song? This is the one. I'm serious. You can listen to it on repeat and it'll be so damn comforting (in a sad way) every single time. But it's okay, because she's holding up underneath that shroud. Y'know?

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