Patty Griffin Talks Grammys, Gospel Music and Robert Plant
Patty Griffin's albums are popular with both fans and critics and her songs are covered by the likes of Emmylou Harris and the Dixie Chicks (just to name two). What draws so many people to Griffin's music is her unflinching honesty and her beautiful simplicity. Over the course of 8 albums, Griffin has moved easily within the folk, alt-country and Americana genres. She even won a Grammy for best traditional gospel album for 2010's Downtown Church.
From a tour stop in New Orleans and in anticipation of Saturday's gig at the Kessler Theater, Griffin talked with DC9 about her time on A&M Records, playing with Robert Plant and her surprise at winning that Grammy.
It's been a busy year for you. You release American Kid in May and now the reissue of Silver Bell came out a few weeks ago. Can you talk about the evolution of Silver Bell?
It was one of the records I made in my last days on A&M Records. The record company got bought by somebody and bought by somebody again. They liked one record I made and then came the Silver Bell project. They held on, held on and held on and then finally decided they were not going to put it out. That was kind of the end of my relationship with them. I moved on and then just decided to put it out.
So you basically have two albums to promote on this tour. Will you play an equal amount of songs from both?
I've been much more heavy on American Kid because it's more what I feel. My friends The Dixie Chicks did do a few songs from American Bell and I believe Natalie just did another one. It has kind of had a life of its own. I've already recorded a few tunes myself from that record. It's been quite a serious bootleg. People always request songs from it. People call out the name of very obscure songs. It's been out there a while, but I got a chance to have it remixed by Glyn Johns. He did a great job cleaning up the 90's mess that it was.
Your time on A&M Records was very strange. Didn't they reject your first album [Living with Ghosts] as well?
I recorded a whole other record with a band and a producer and they didn't like that. They didn't think it was the right way to enter. I told them that I play solo and I don't play with a band. I told them if they like my solo stuff, why don't they put that out? They went for it.
Did you at least get to meet Herb Albert?
I did, yes, did meet him. A&M was great. At first, thing were very, very good.
You've had so many of your songs covered by other artists. Have you ever had someone think it was you covering somebody else's song?
I don't know. I do not. I am sure that has happened, but I don't pay attention.
What is it about your songs that make so many people want to cover them?
I think that I write emotional songs and in that way, they are more traditional. There's something about them that has the right sound. They are not methodically written. They are written from my heart and my gut. Singers are always looking for things like that. I write in a style that a singer can wrap their voice around and put some emotion in it.