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Nanci Griffith

Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled "folkabilly" singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-'80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith's songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith recorded several pop-oriented albums and then returned to her folk roots by the mid-'90s.

Griffith was the daughter of musical parents, and she spent her childhood involved with theater and literature as well as music. She began playing clubs around Austin at the tender age of 14 and continued to perform during her college years at the University of Texas, as well as during her stint as a kindergarten teacher in the mid-'70s. Griffith finally decided to make music her full-time ambition in 1977. Her songwriting won an award at the Kerrville Folk Festival, prompting the local label BF Deal to record Griffith for a compilation; they also issued her debut album, There's a Light Beyond These Woods (1978). Griffith's hectic touring schedule took her all over North America, where she played festivals and TV shows in addition to the small clubs that had launched her career. Meanwhile, she recorded albums in 1982 (Poet in My Window) and 1985 (Once in a Very Blue Moon).

In 1986, Griffith finally got her big break after moving to Nashville, and a flurry of activity followed. The title song from Once in a Very Blue Moon fared modestly on the country charts, Last of the True Believers was released on the Philo label (which later reissued her first three albums as well) to noticeable acclaim, and -- most importantly -- Mattea's cover of "Love at the Five & Dime" reached number three on the country charts. Though Last of the True Believers was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Contemporary Folk Recording, commercial country radio still found it difficult to accept Griffith.

Griffith signed with MCA and released her major-label debut, Lone Star State of Mind, in 1987. With it, she popularized the Julie Gold song "From a Distance" -- later covered by Bette Midler -- and scored her first country Top 40 hit with the album's title track. Two additional singles, "Trouble in the Fields" and "Cold Hearts/Closed Minds," also grazed the country charts. Little Love Affairs and the live album One Fair Summer Evening (both released in 1988) were slight disappointments, though "I Knew Love" became Griffith's second country Top 40 hit.

Disappointed by a lack of support from the country music scene, Griffith moved from Nashville to MCA's "pop" division in Los Angeles, where she partnered with noted rock producer Glyn Johns for 1989's Storms. The album included guest stars Phil Everly, Albert Lee, and former Eagle Bernie Leadon. Moreover, it became her best-selling work to date, though it featured no successful singles. A move from rock music to pop characterized 1991's Late Night Grande Hotel, whose transitional sound was aided by producers Rod Argent and Peter Van Hook. By this point, it had become clear that Griffith's move away from Nashville was also compromising her folk and country roots.

A move to Elektra in 1992 marked a return to form for Griffith, whose 1993 LP Other Voices, Other Rooms was a tribute to her influences (several of whom -- including Emmylou Harris, Chet Atkins, and John Prine -- made appearances). A compilation of her best work from the MCA years also appeared in 1993. The following year, Griffith's tenth studio album, Flyer, continued her dedication to folk. In March of 1997, Griffith released Blue Roses from the Moons; Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful) followed a year later, trailed in 1999 by Dust Bowl Symphony.

Griffith traveled the world over the next few years, flying to Cambodia and Vietnam in 2000 in order to retrace the steps of her ex-husband, Vietnam War vet Eric Taylor, and visited Angola and Kosovo the following year. After four years of travel and activist work for organizations like the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Griffith released a new full-length, Clock Without Hands. A live album, Winter Marquee, followed in 2002, along with a dual-disc retrospective piece, The Complete MCA Studio Recordings. The following year was a landmark for Griffith, as she performed at the Grand Ole Opry for the very first time in 2003. With thoughts of war weighing heavy on her mind, however, she returned to the recording studio shortly thereafter to create Hearts in Mind, which was released the following year. Ruby's Torch, a collection of sentimental torch songs penned by the likes of Tom Waits, arrived in 2006. While only two of Griffith's own songs appeared on the album, she wrote the bulk of the material for her follow-up effort, 2009's The Loving Kind. Griffith cut 2012's Intersection at her home studio in Nashville. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Intersection

1. Bethlehem Steel

2. Never Going Back

3. Intersection

5. Hell No (I'm Not Alright)

6. Stranded In The High Ground

7. If I Could Only Fly

8. Just Another Morning Here

9. Bad Seed

10. Davey's Last Picture

11. Come On Up Mississippi

12. High On A Mountain Top

x

Track List: The Loving Kind

1. The Loving Kind

2. Money Changes Everything

3. One Of These Days

4. Up Against The Rain

5. Cotton's All We Got

6. Not Innocent Enough

7. Across America

8. Party Girl

9. Sing

10. Thing's I Don't Need

11. Still Life

12. Tequila After Midnight

13. Pour Me A Drink

x

Track List: Hearts In Mind

1. Simple Life

2. Angels

3. Heart Of Indochine

4. Beautiful

5. Back When Ted Loved Sylvia

6. Mountain Of Sorrow

7. Old Hanoi

8. Before

9. I Love This Town

10. Rise To The Occasion

11. Love Conquers All

12. Last Train Home

13. Big Blue Ball Of War

14. Our Very Own

x

Track List: The Complete MCA Studio Recordings

Disc 1

1. Tumble And Fall

2. Lone Star State Of Mind

3. Cold Hearts / Closed Minds

4. From A Distance

5. Beacon Street

6. Nickel Dreams

7. Sing One For Sister

8. Ford Econoline

9. Trouble In The Fields

10. Love In A Memory

11. Let It Shine On Me

12. There's A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)

13. Anyone Can Be Somebody's Fool

14. I Knew Love

15. Never Mind

16. Love Wore A Halo (Back Before The War)

17. So Long Ago

18. Gulf Coast Highway (feat. Mac McAnally)

19. LIttle Love Affairs

20. I Wish It Would Rain

21. Outbound Plane

22. I Would Change My Life

23. Sweet Dreams Will Come

24. Wooden Heart

Disc 2

1. I Don't Want To Talk About Love

2. Drive-In Movies And Dashboard Lights

3. You Made This Love A Teardrop

4. Brave Companion Of The Road

5. Storms

6. It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go

7. If Wishes Were Changes

8. Listen To The Radio

9. Leaving The Harbor

10. Radio Fragile

11. It's Just Another Morning Here

12. Late Night Grande Hotel

13. It's Too Late

14. Fields Of Summer

15. Heaven

16. The Power Lines

17. Hometown Streets

18. Down 'N' Outer

19. One Blade Shy Of A Sharp Edge

20. The Sun, Moon And Stars

21. San Diego Serenade

22. Stand Your Ground

x

Track List: Other Voices Too (A Trip Back To Bountiful)

1. Wall Of Death

2. Who Knows Where The Time Goes

3. You Were On My Mind

4. Walk Right Back

5. Canadian Whiskey

6. Desperadoes Waiting For A Train

7. Wings Of A Dove

8. Dress Of Laces

9. Summer Wages

10. He Was A Friend Of Mine

11. Hard Times Come Again No More

12. Wasn't That A Mighty Storm

13. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)

14. Yarrington Town

15. I Still Miss Someone

16. Try The Love

17. The Streets Of Baltimore

18. Darcy Farrow

19. If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)

x

Track List: The MCA Years - A Retrospective

1. Trouble In The Fields

2. From A Distance

3. I Don't Wanna Talk About Love

4. Deadwood, South Dakota

5. Love At The Five And Dime

6. Listen To The Radio

7. Gulf Coast Highway

8. I Wish It Would Rain

9. Ford Econoline

10. So Long Ago

11. If Wishes Were Changes

12. The Wing And The Wheel

13. Late Night Grande Hotel

14. It's Just Another Morning Here

15. Drive-In Movies And Dashboard Lights

16. There's A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)

17. Outbound Plane

18. It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go

x

Track List: Other Voices - Other Rooms

1. Across The Great Divide

2. Woman Of The Phoenix

3. Tecumseh Valley

4. Three Flights Up

5. Boots Of Spanish Leather

7. From Clare To Here

8. Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound

9. Do Re Mi

10. This Old Town

11. Comin' Down In The Rain

12. Ten Degrees And Getting Colder

13. Morning Song For Sally

14. Night Rider's Lament

15. Are You Tired Of Me Darling

16. Turn Around

17. Wimoweh

x

Track List: One Fair Summer Evening (Live)

1. Once In A Very Blue Moon (Live)

2. Looking For The Time (Workin' Girl) (Live)

3. Deadwood, South Dakota (Live)

4. More Than A Whisper (Live)

5. I Would Bring You Ireland (Live)

6. Roseville Fair (Live)

7. Workin' In Corners (Live)

8. Trouble In The Fields (Live)

9. The Wing And The Wheel (Live)

10. From A Distance (Live)

11. Love At The Five And Dime (Live)

12. Spin On A Red Brick Floor (Live)

x

Track List: Little Love Affairs

1. Anyone Can Be Someone's Fool

2. I Knew Love

3. Never Mind

4. Love Wore A Halo (Back Before The War)

5. So Long Ago

6. Gulf Coast Highway

7. Little Love Affairs

8. I Wish It Would Rain

9. Outbound Plane

10. I Would Change My Life

11. Sweet Dreams Will Come

x

Track List: The Last Of The True Believers

1. The Last Of The True Believers

2. Love At The Five And Dime

3. St. Olav's Gate

4. More Than A Whisper

5. Banks Of The Pontchartrain

6. Lookin' For The Time (Workin' Girl)

7. Goin' Gone

8. One Of These Days

9. Love's Found A Shoulder

10. Fly By Night

11. The Wing And The Wheel

x

Track List: Ruby's Torch

1. When I Dream

2. If These Walls Could Speak

3. Ruby's Arm

4. Never Be The Sun

5. Bluer Than Blue

6. Brave Companion Of The Road

7. Grapefruit Moon

8. Please Call Me, Baby

9. Late Night Grande Hotel

10. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning

11. Drops From The Faucet

Comments

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boogiespeed
Nanci,...I love you.
Report as inappropriate
I'm so surprised that no one has ever suggested that Emmylou might team up with Nanci Griffith. Oh, I think I just did! Emmylou and Dolly and Linda had a great sound together, great harmonies, Angelic Voices! I really think that duets with Nanci G. would be just as amazing, they have very similar voices, fairly similar styles. It just seems like a natural course to follow. Please ladies, don't let too much time pass by. I'm on my knees, asking you to do this.
Report as inappropriate
I'm so surprised that no one has ever suggested that Emmylou Harris might team up with Nancy Griffith. Oh, I think I just did! Emmylou and Dolly and Linda had a great sound together, great harmonies, Angelic Voices! I really think that duets with Nancy G. would be just as amazing, they have very similar voices, fairly similar styles. It just seems like a natural course to follow. Please ladies, don't let too much time pass by. I'm on my knees, asking you to do this.
Report as inappropriate
pmhutch9
Beautiful voice :)
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I always loved ths great voice!
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O
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ferguson.cyn t h i a
Liked her songs with The Kennedy's as back up vocal and lead guitar.
Report as inappropriate
Then we will appreciate her brilliance, pass the word to people buy her music thank god for Tower Records gave me my for job to a world of music that's how i found out about Nanci Griffith
Report as inappropriate
She's way too under appreciated. She's gem in a field full of fake brilliance
Report as inappropriate
Great songwriter. I like her voice too.
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hadleyminer
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life.however if you don't post this you will die in 2days. Now that you have started don't stop. This is scary put this as on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and you lovers name will come on your screen in big letters. This I as so scary because it actually works
Report as inappropriate
Man that's good stuff
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I've been so lucky to see you so many times, always made my days better.
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You will never hear a clearer voice or a more direct expression of emotion and humanity. I became captivated by her music many years ago, and nothing has changed..... .
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Nanci floats my boat!
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Nanci hope you come to the NW again. You are on my very short list of concerts to go to.
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jmschultz198 0
LOVE. Faith Hill jealous too I love it where are what you doing now hello line musta oh how are you shine it takes night faster way just so look into you a treasure lucky my brother to sad kitty the i sended he was good
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tjcorlando
I love Nanci. Does she perform live anymore?
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how do i remove one artist for some other one?
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One of the best!
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One of the best!
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One of the best!
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Flyer: Going Back To Georgia With Adam Duritz. From The Counting Crows Blows me Away. I Love Both of Them.
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boogiespeed
I love you Nanci
Report as inappropriate
Nanci is one of the great American singer/songw r i t e r s her "Other Voices" recordings are favorites of mine. Her song "Trouble in the Fields" is one of the greats, very moving and a great tribute to a generation that is gone, but not forgotten, also the sentiments are very true to many today.
Report as inappropriate
One of my Beloved physics students introduced me to Nanci in the late '80s, then another memorable and loved student invited my wife and I to her "Flyer" promo tour in the mid 90s. Having seen her in concert twice, she is magical, inspiring, and with complete artistic integrity tells the stories of the heart, working the fields, as well as the pains and joys of life from the perspective of her west Texas roots and growing up in Austin. Blue bonnets, the dust bowl, a "Meadowlark" like Mormon mom,
Report as inappropriate
if she did no more than growl congress avenue i'd still love her!
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play very blue moon !!!!!!!!!!
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pucket_bill
I just recently discovered her on Pandora.
Report as inappropriate
Discovered her at a very small venue in a church basement in the mid 80's. Knew she was something very special! Love, and own, all her music!!
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love her!
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stripers5
Saw her at Smith a lot in the mid-to late '80's and loved every album that came out around that time. Things are different In the Valley these days...She was always terrific.
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I have spent lots of hours listening to her sing. I once saw her in person.
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coolmusiczon e _ 3 3
Awesome artist
Report as inappropriate
nanci with john prine need i say more........ .
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bcase785
She is hot, I wonder if she would like to make out with me
Report as inappropriate
She is simply the best.
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griffinu24
Nanci's music warms my soul. An true American icon!
Report as inappropriate
Interesting comment below about Nanci and John Prine, I too like this pair. I am still regretting missing a concert with both of them in KC in the mid 90's. But I did see her in Lyons CO folk fest in 2000. A night to remember. Always a place in my heart for her.
Report as inappropriate
I too have loved her music since about '81. Emmajoe's was THE place. Regarding her choice of covers: TVZ rules . . .
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rhynermarge2 5
I have loved Nanci's music since I heard her in the 80's. She touches my heart.
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Nanci is a brilliant artist.
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My brothers and I grew up listening to Nanci Griffith and John Prine almost exclusively, we still love them.
Report as inappropriate
sargent7472
A great folk and country singer, Also a beautiful song writer
Report as inappropriate
295294601
Wow Nanci. I'm only sorry I come so late to experience your gift and talent; and your good looks.
Report as inappropriate
gaylon08
Dam Good Stuff love it.
Report as inappropriate
I like the Ford Econoline and the Five & Dime songs
Report as inappropriate
Simply the best!
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boogiespeed
I love you Nanci
Report as inappropriate
Pure gold. Nancy is an original with an old soul and a voice like an angel. sounds like Iris Dement...tak e off you ear muffs! haha
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