I believe Nanci Griffith has, along with Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris and many other female singers with crystalline voices, had her sweet side overly praised at the expense of her social awareness and sense of humor. Baez, perhaps the most purely gifted singer of the Sixties folk movement, is typically relegated to the status of Dylan's girlfriend in Dont Look Back; to this I always respond with the story of someone telling her and Dylan, at some hotel in the Catskills I believe, that they made a great couple, to which she replied, "A couple of what?" And whenever I hear Emmylou I think of my friend Melissa, a mild-mannered native Kentuckian from Oldham County who is now a museum curator here in NYC, whose rebel yell I only hear when she lets loose when karaokeing an Emmylou tune.
But this week's song isn't by Baez or Emmylou, it's by the grand dame of sharp-toothed charm, Nanci Griffith. I fell in love with her voice while working at Adventure Bookstore over Christmas breaks in Lawrence, when they always had Flyer playing. I saw her play at Liberty Hall one summer in the mid-Nineties with my friend Jon Laura, blushing when she let loose with a profanity-laced tirade against the venue or the hotel she'd stay or something else I can't remember. Jon Laura, who had come there with me only reluctantly, talked about that show for the rest of the summer.
Anyway, this is my favorite of many of my favorites of hers, "Spin on a Red Brick Floor."
Keep an ear out for one of my all-time favorite lines, "New York City kinda brings out the stupids in me," and for a visual check out another live version, with Mark O'connor on fiddle and Lyle Lovett singing harmony: