I think Nanci Griffith says it best when, in the opening 2.24 minute long intro to her "Love At The Five And Dime" on her live recording One Fair Summer Evening she captures the essence of childhood innocence, longing, and a simplicity to life that we are all - too- fast loosing. This recording, released in 1988 on MCA, is by far one of my all-time favourite albums, records, CD's, however you call them. While I'm not certain she meant it to be a 'greatest hits' of her early career, it certainly, in retrospect, turned out that way. She indeed sings the songs that are the best of her first 7 albums. From the heartbreaking "More Than a Whisper" to her tale of depression-era life in the Texan dust bowl "Trouble In The Fields" the material she chose speaks in many languages to anyone who has a listen.
The thing I like about this disc is how she took the songs and broke them down into their most basic form. James Hooker plays his electric piano/synthesiser while Ms. Griffith plays her guitar as if she was buttering warm, fresh from the oven bread with soft butter. Minimal backing vocals provided by Denise Franke and Doug Hudson allow the songs to float and not feel weighty or over-produced. What came before that night at Anderson Fair in Austin was more country than what you find on this, one of the finest CD's ever produced. My only regret is that it is missing it's best song, a hidden treasure found only on the DVD, "There's A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)". Hearing Ms. Griffith and Ms. Franke sing this song about lost childhood innocence and adulthood as if their hearts were holding one another up is truly a moment to be cherished. Whether you are a fan of hers or not, one can't help but like this CD.
If you were paying attention to the news on saturday it is possible you heard the awful truth. Tower Records, after 46 years in business is closing down. Owing over $200 million to creditors the business was sold to some rather large company that is liquidating assets and selling properties. Tower blames their troubles on digital downloading (why hold a CD in your hand after looking all over a store for it when you can download it in seconds for half the price?), Wal-Mart and their disgusting business practices (my words not theirs) and an overall industry-wide decline in music sales. No matter who you blame (the consumer or the Executives) it is the end of an era. As we Americans loose ourselves in technology (meanwhile getting fatter and lazier as we sit at our computers all day), we are clearly in danger of loosing our history and moving into an era that is cold and emotionally distant. I will never forget going to The Gramaphone Shop as a kid, digging through the bin and finding that Kate Bush CD that had just come out in digital format. I will also never forget being old enough to go into the City, walk down Broadway and wander into, and loose myself in, the aisles of Tower Records. Call it progress or call it Big Business gone bad, call it whatever you want but as we say goodbye to record bins say good bye to your dusty hands finding that record you've always wanted, say goodbye to some good time lost in the aisles of your local record store and say goodbye to the hours spent looking at cover art and reading the liner notes as your new - found favourite music plays in the background. This week I bid a sad farewell to not only Tower Records but CBGB's who will be closing their doors next sunday after loosing their own battle with Big Business. Thank you both for the memories!
Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday!......CHEERS!!!