DIARY - 1 MARCH 2006 - PATTY GRIFFIN
GRIFFIN - LONG WAY HOME
black limousine, shiniest I've ever seen/ the back seat is nice and clean/
she rides as quite as a dream." - Long Ride Home - Patty Griffin.
Griffin was on top of the world when she moved to Austin, Texas, after
her song Long Ride Home was used as the musical focus of acclaimed
Cameron Crowe movie Elizabethtown.
The much-travelled Maine minstrel wrote the song more than a decade
ago in a short creative burst in Nashville.
"I bought a guitar in Nashville in 1995, was sitting in my former
manager's kitchen and it came right out of my guitar," Griffin
told Nu Country TV on the eve of her first Australian tour.
"It took just an hour. Cameron got that song from Dave Marsh
- his fellow Rolling Stone music writer. He was a fan of mine and
championed that record."
Although the song was used to illustrate the return of Crowe's lead
character's from Los Angeles to Kentucky it was not biographical for
song was complete fiction for me," Griffin, now 42, said, "Cameron's
father had Kentucky roots and he discovered things about his father he
Griffin is indebted to movie directors and major artists for keeping wolves
from her door by cutting her songs when her career was in limbo.
Ironically, her biggest earners were two songs on stillborn album Silver
Bell recorded at Daniel Lanois's Kingsway studio in New Orleans.
"It was recorded in 2000," she says of Silver Bell that
suffered the same fate as yet another disc recorded around the time of
her 1996 debut disc Living With Ghosts.
"It was accepted by the label that I ended up on after the first
corporate takeover," Griffin says.
"Then the label was bought again, and I ended up with a new regime,
and they told me that they did not like the record at all. My manager
figured out a nice way to get me out
of there without owing a lot of money."
I was smarter/ I wished I was stronger/ I'd wished I'd loves Jesus the
way my wife does." - Top Of The World - Patty Griffin
was on the road with the Dixie Chicks and gave them a tape of Silver
Bell that had Top Of The World and Truth #2 on
it, " Griffin revealed.
"Natalie Maines is such a great singer. Their arrangement of
Top Of The World is so similar to my original. I re-arranged
my version for new album Impossible Dream."
Griffin also included her live duet with Emmylou Harris on Truth
#2 as one of three bonus tracks on Impossible Dream (ATO-Shock.)
"That was pretty nice, it worked out well," Griffin said.
by Ron Baker
the album was rejected it was like a complete waste of a month of my life
- being put off by your record label because they didn't like the album."
The Dixie Chicks also chose Griffin's 1996 tune Fly as the title
track of their fifth album and she reprised it on her 2003 live disc A
Kiss In Time.
belatedly learned during our interview that Kasey Chambers also cut a
live version of Top Of The World on a Pay TV concert disc at Sydney
"I wasn't aware of that," Griffin said.
"I met Kasey through her tour manager Greg Wilkinson. She's always
coming over here. I was floored when I saw her perform - she's great.
I was thrilled. I didn't know she covered one of my songs."
Griffin, the youngest of seven children from Old Town, near Bangor, Maine,
worked folk clubs and bars near the Canadian border.
She began playing guitar at 16 and spent two years in Florida but it was
in Boston she met her husband, who encouraged her music, before they split
"It took me a while to recover but there's always an equal and opposite
reaction," said the singer who worked as a waitress to make ends
meet between gigs in Boston.
"You grow out of it. There are no dramas. I'm living happily now."
Griffin recorded her debut disc Living With Ghosts in 1996 and
released Flaming Red for A & M in 1998.
Griffin recorded the latter with producer Jay Joyce without the label's
knowledge but it was released anyway - unlike Silver Bell.
During her hiatus she had her songs covered by artists diverse as Bette
Midler, Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris.
"I was very lucky from the publishing end," Griffin says.
"I didn't have to go and tour incessantly. In those years that I
was held up, I got to rest a little bit thanks to people picking my songs.
Plus, it's nice that other people who are talented would even consider
Chapin Carpenter recorded Griffin song My Dear Old Friend for
the soundtrack of We Were Soldiers.
"We were both managed by the same guy," Griffin recalled.
"They were looking for names and songs. She had the name and
I had the song - she did a great version of that."
Another Griffin song Twisted Road surfaced on the soundtrack
of the Susan Sarandon movie Anywhere But Here.
"I didn't think anyone heard that song," Griffin explained.
listening to Iggy Pop at the time and they wanted that kind of sound.
It was the year of Ever Clear and the mixer du jour of that year. I'm
not really crazy about how it ended up sounding but I sure had fun recording
rescued Griffin from her recording hiatus and signed her to his ATO label
after sharing an Austin City Limits stage with her.
Matthews signed Griffin to his new ATO label for 1000 Kisses that
she produced with guitarist Doug Lancio at his Basement Studio in Nashville
from April 21-27, 2001.
As well as her originals it included Springsteen song Stolen Car
and Lonnie Johnson's 1948 R&B hit Tomorrow Night, learned from
a 1992 Bob Dylan recording.
She also cut as her finale - Mil Besos (Spanish for 1000 Kisses)
- a Tejano ballad cut at the suggestion of keyboardist Michael Ramos.
- OPRY MOTHER CHURCH
Success of the disc persuaded Griffin to return to Nashville for a live
concert at the famed Grand Ole Opry mother church - Ryman Auditorium -
on January 30, 2003.
The concert, with Lancio on guitar, Ramos, bassist Dave Jacques and drummer
Bryan Owings, was never intended for release.
The concert reprised three songs - Rain, Be Careful and Long
Ride Home - from her studio album.
But Matthews heard the tapes - also featuring guest vocalist Emmylou Harris
- and insisted on release with bonus video clips of Rain and Chief
and interview on DVD.
It was Emmylou who introduced Griffin to Buddy and Julie Miller in 1996.
"Emmylou said I'm bringing two friends to your concert, they love
your music," Griffin recalled of the Millers who guested with Emmylou
on Impossible Dream.
"I did a benefit for the homeless in Austin recently with Buddy Miller."
write a story of a tidal wave/ we run out of luck, we run out of days/
we run out of gas, a hundred miles away from a station/ there's a war
and a plague, smoke and disaster." - Throw A Line - Patty Griffin
has a recurring water theme in many of her songs - especially Throw
A Line, entrée of her new Craig Ross produced album Impossible
"It was only when I played Tsunami and hurricane relief concerts
that I discovered I had so many songs with water themes of natural
disasters," she revealed.
"They were so inappropriate for the benefits. It was only then
I discovered how much I used that imagery. Rain was written
about the Austin floods but Throw A Line just used that metaphor."
The song is one of the Griffin tunes illustrated by a video clip.
song Cold As It Gets had a more historic source.
As It Gets was inspired by U.S. Prisoners of War in World War 11,"
'They were taken to a concentration camp in Berger because they were Jewish.
It was inspired by one of the stories on a TV documentary that was very
lights are flashing on the highway/ I wonder if we're ever gonna get home/
I wonder if we're gonna get home tonight/ everywhere the water's getting
rough." - When It Don't Come Easy - Patty Griffin
It Don't Come Easy had its roots in the aftermath of 9-11.
"At first after 9-11 there was massive upheaval in this country,"
"For a moment we seemed united then the war mongering began and
the country got incredibly divided. You can feel it on the streets
- the level of rage is palpable. It's just exhausting - very difficult
What, even in Texan state capital Austin?
"Austin is like a liberal island in the middle of the state,"
"I think Austin liberals are a different slice of Texas. For
a while the politics got incredibly nasty, now it seems to be turning
The nasty politicians got their comeuppance."
ROOTS FOR KINKY
So will Patty
be voting for singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman in the Texan
"Yes, I will be voting for Kinky," Patty purred.
"I think it's definitely a long shot but Austin will probably vote
What about his spiritual adviser Billy Joe Shaver - the singing actor
and heart by-pass survivor?
"I got to hug Billy Joe once at a Willie Nelson July 4 picnic,"
"He was on the road again to recovery."
Griffin plans to record her sixth album in March and tour here mid-year
to promote it.
"I have plenty of new songs written," she added.
"My new songs are my little babies and need to be nurtured."
And that Australian tour?
"We were hoping to come in April but it's more likely to be July
or August," said Patty whose video clips will be featured in Series
#5 of Nu Country TV.
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