Sunday, October 7, 2007

Covered in Folk:
The Dixie Chicks do Patty Griffin

You may not have heard of Patty Griffin. But if you've had your ear to the radio over the past decade, you've heard her songwriting: Griffin is one of those rare singer-songwriters whose songs are bigger than she is, and in her case, it's a shame and a blessing. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the bittersweet lot of the oft-covered and not-yet-famous. We call it Covered in Folk.




According to legend, the production on Patty Griffin's first album obscured her authentic sound so much that her label buried the studio tracks, remastered her demo, and released it pretty much as-is. The result, 1996 release Living With Ghosts, is a comprehensive masterpiece of raw folk power. The siren sounds of the city through her open apartment window only reinforce the realism inherent in the languid grit of her hard-driving guitar, and her hallmark seen-it-all wail.

But we're not here today to talk about Patty's breathy voice, or her rough, busker's streetcorner sound. We're here to talk about her songs.

Those who have seen Patty in concert agree: there's nothing quite like the powerhouse Maine woods twang-and-wail to lay bare the bones of her earlier, darker lyrics of battered women and lost rural souls. But I'd rather have her songs channeled through other voices than let them languish in the A&M vault. And luckily, Griffin's songs are so powerful as written, it's a genuine joy to hear them handled well by others.

No performer in today's market has benefitted more from Griffin's songwriting than country sensations and anti-Bush badgirls the Dixie Chicks, whose three-part harmony and careful handling make the songs their own while retaining all the original power of lyric and melody. Today we offer three Patty Griffin covers, one from each of three different Chicks albums.

  • Let Him Fly, off Dixie Chicks Fly
  • Truth No. 2, off the Dixie Chicks Home
  • Top Of The World, off the Dixie Chicks live album of the same name

The Dixie Chicks are great musicians in their own right, but now that you know the pen behind the music, put your credit where credit is due: pick up Patty Griffin's Living with Ghosts, her stellar opus of smalltown loners 1000 Kisses, and the rest of the Griffin catalog at ecotunes, her preferred sales source.


Today's bonus coversong bonanza:
  • New folkfemme combo Red Molly covers Griffin's Long Ride Home
  • Alt-countrified Emmylou Harris covers Griffin's One Big Love
  • Covergirl chanteuse Maura O'Connell covers Griffins Poor Man's House
  • Patty Griffin covers Springsteen's Stolen Car
  • Patty Griffin covers John Hiatt's Take It Down

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