I’ve long been a fan of singer-songwriter Patty Griffin. I feel she is one of the best songwriters alive. Her music is emotionally moving, alternately joyful and heartbreaking. Her latest album, “American Kid” was released this month. It is a tribute to her father who died a few years ago. Many of the songs are about loss and waiting for someone who is on the brink of life and death to pass. Griffin’s father was a proud Boston Irish Catholic and I could imagine him sharing some attributes with my own father. There’s even a song called “Irish Boy” on the album.
I was particularly struck by the particular memories that Griffin crafted into beautiful songs. “Don’t Let Me Die in Florida” was a phrase her father said after visiting the state to bury his brother. “Wild Old Dog” was inspired by a lengthy road trip Griffin took, where she saw a stray dog race across the highway, leaving her to ponder how God is like a wild old dog abandoned on the side of the road. A moment that most of us would only momentarily feel sadness about became a beautiful philosophical statement. And “That Kind of Lonely” which made me visualize a family gathered around a departing loved one, struck me with the line “Everyone in this room wanted to be somewhere else.” That is so true, whether it’s a dying relative or visiting a loved one in a nursing home.
It is understandably a moving and sometimes heartbreaking album but there are also moments of joy and throughout the album, a deep and everlasting love for her father. Not all of us have the talent of Patty Griffin, but it is inspiring me to remember the small moments as well as the big moments and continue to honor my father’s memory through writing.