January 20, 2010

I am waiting, waiting…


I spent most of this afternoon streaming the full new album from Patty Griffin, one I’ve been waiting to hear since I sat in the very sanctuary where it all happened. Downtown Church was recorded in one of the oldest churches in Nashville that once housed wounded Civil War soldiers amidst its Egyptian-themed murals and columns. I accompanied my friend there for her regular Sunday service when I was visiting in December, and was thrilled when the kids’ Sunday school teacher mentioned to me that Patty had recorded a full album there at the beginning of last year. The presence of the room is amazing, and I could picture Patty belting from the pulpit.

This is a full-on gospel album, with songs written and influenced by folks as varied as Hank Williams, Big Mama Thornton, and Bob Dylan. It’s produced by Buddy Miller, and the formidable Emmylou Harris loans her vocals, as well as “gospel royalty” like Regina and Ann McCrary. There were tinges of this warming, soulful authenticity on songs like the incredible “Mary” (in ’98) or cuts like “Up To The Mountain (MLK song)” from 2007′s Children Running Through. But this one lays down the folded-paper fans and Sunday dress hats, and just lets it go.

This song knocked the breath out of me the first time I heard it today, and sent all kinds of tingles up and down my spine. I closed my office door immediately and turned it way up, mesmerized. It starts humble, but it’s hard not to be moved by the end — the ache and the grief and the longing in her voice speaks as clearly as any of the words she is singing.

I also first thought she was singing, “I am waiting, waiting, for my time to come,” and to some degree, maybe we all are waiting for something. Waiting for someone to return, waiting for a clear path, waiting for a soulmate or a child or some inspiration.

This is a song for that.

Waiting For My Child To Come – Patty Griffin

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Patty recorded a version of this song with Mavis Staples for the Oh Happy Daycompilation earlier this year, but this new version is even more solemn, more soulful, more absolutely convincing.

When Miller spoke of the genesis of this album concept, he stated that Patty “seemed to feel this would be good for her heart, too.” Yes.

“One of the first things she said was she wanted a room where she could kind of feel her voice coming back to her,” Miller says. “And my place doesn’t necessarily fall in that category. So I thought of this downtown Presbyterian church. I’d just done a couple songs as part of a benefit there. It’s the wildest looking thing, and it sounded beautiful. So I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.”

And after you finish listening to this, try segueing seamlessly into Joshua James’ “Cold War” in all its boot-stomping gospel goodness, and be sated completely. Perfect.

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  • Cool background info! I was at that benefit Buddy sang at! How great to know that that idea inspired the whole album.

    Bethany — January 21, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  • Patty has an amazing voice…it comes through on albums but she blows you away in concert. I’m glad to know this album is out there now.

    Frog — January 21, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  • I’m a huge fan of hers, so I’m more than excited to hear about this! Her voice can just get to your core like no one else sometimes.

    meredith — January 21, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

  • ahh! thanks for the reminder! i’m really looking forward to listening to the full album

    gloria — January 21, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  • Heather, this is truly spectacular. I also thought Coming Home to Me was a stunning track, with Julie Miller joining in. Love the sound of this album…and the arrangements, musicianship of the Millers, etc. are stelllar as always (see Buddy and Julie’s Writen in Chalk if you like this). This goes beyond “full on gospel” though there is plenty of that. It dabbles in that weird Americana space often – where you hear gospel, blues, country, jazz, influences in a stew throughout. Witness standout track I Smell A Rat. As always Patty is hard to pin down to a genre, and I like it like that.

    dwymer7003 — January 22, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  • hi… Great post (as always). Can’t wait for this to be released. I saw Griffin/Miller/Harris and Shawn Colvin at a Three Girls and Their Buddy gig last spring and Patty did “Samson and Delilah” and “Mary”, which Emmylou called “the benediction.” Great show, with an absolutely gorgeous version of “To Love Somebody” led by Buddy. I’m very lucky to have the mp3s.

    Glenn — January 22, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  • Nice post, love the Patty, but I though Mary came out in 1998? on “Flaming Red”.

    james — January 24, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  • good catch. thanks! :)

    browneheather — January 24, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  • Glenn, I also saw one of the “Three Girls and Their Buddy” shows and have been anxiously anticipating this album ever since. Patty stole the show that night, but Buddy may be the most under-appreciated perfomer/writer/producer in the business.

    Jeremy — January 25, 2010 @ 8:50 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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