Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Impossible Dreamer: Patty Griffin
by Gregg Shapiro

This article shared 3001 times since Wed May 5, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Patty Griffin will be performing May 15 in Chicago at the Vic Theatre.

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Patty Griffin, whose songs have been covered by Bette Midler, Emmylou Harris, Maura O'Connell and The Dixie Chicks, to mention a few, comes out testifying on her new album Impossible Dream (ATO). You can almost hear her raising her hand over head and stomping her foot as she sings album opener, 'Love Throw A Line.' The material takes a serious, but accessible, turn on the rest of the disc, and standouts such as 'When It Don't Come Easy' and 'Rowing Song,' are destined to become classics in the ever-expanding Griffin songbook.

Gregg Shapiro: You celebrated a milestone birthday (40) this year. How did you mark the occasion?

Patty Griffin: It was a really busy week here in Austin (Texas) for almost everybody with South By Southwest. We did our big celebration in New Orleans a couple weekends ago. New Orleans is one of my favorite places in the world, so that's what we did. And my parents came and a lot of friends came. Just walked around the beautiful old city ... and that was it (laughs).

GS: There is a spiritual/gospel/tent revival quality to some of the songs on your new disc Impossible Dream. It really stands out on songs such as 'Love Throw A Line' and 'Standing,' to mention a few. Can you please say something about that aspect of the songs?

PG: Well, I listen to that music, gospel, old-time country gospel kind of stuff, specifically the Staple Singers; their older stuff. The songs were written by people who were either slaves or not far removed from slavery. They're sort of talking about very painful things, and yet every time I listen to a Staples record, within 15 minutes I feel really hopeful and uplifted (laughs). So I feel like that type of music is almost a way to dance your troubles away. There's beauty in that music. It's sort of written into the formula.

GS: Speaking of timeless subject matter, 'Cold As It Gets' rang for me, as a powerful and timeless anti-war song. Have you had the chance to perform it at any anti-war concerts or events?

PG: No, it hasn't been performed yet on stage. I don't think it has. It's really inspired by the Holocaust, a story about the Holocaust. I never meant for it to be an anti-war song (laughs), although I am anti-war. I'm anti-war in every way. I don't believe wars ever work. It's more inspired by this story I heard from certain Americans who were kept in concentration camps and experienced the march that they sent everybody on when the allied troops were moving in to take over Germany. Inspired by a story that I heard about somebody who had spent maybe the last couple years of his life being tortured, and could barely hold a gun, and the first thing he wanted to do was have a gun. You know, a lot of these guys wanted to have their guns back and go and kill these people. One of the guys wanted to, totally irrationally, steal a car and hunt down the person who had really harmed him. It was kind of a revelation to me that that kind of darkness would create that kind of darkness, and I thought there would just be relief and, 'Oh, now we can go home,' but there was more pain. And that's what the song came out of. I think a lot of people are reading into it that it's very current, political. But I almost called it 'The Nazi Hunter,' about somebody who dedicates their life to revenge. It's just something I never thought about much before until I saw the documentary actually.

GS: What's the documentary?

PG: I saw it on PBS last summer, and it's about Berga. Berga was the concentration camp where they sent American POWs if they suspected them of being Jewish.

GS: There are also songs on Impossible Dream, such as 'Florida,' 'Kite Song,' and 'Mother Of God,' that are what one might call good examples of a Patty Griffin song. There is a familiar and comforting quality to those songs.

PG: Good, thank you. I'm glad that you feel that way. They feel more personal than some of the others.

GS: If you were to describe your style, how would you do that?

PG: I don't know. I think I'm a big, blubbering (laughs) emotional person. It's hard for me to listen to my own music and have this perspective on it, but I feel when I'm singing, I'm trying to push through to a higher place to look at things from.

GS: Well, speaking of personal things, there is an 'Impossible Dream' coda, sung by your parents, at the end of 'Top Of The World.' That seems like kind of a personal sort of thing to share with your fans.

PG: The placement of that is the turning point in the record, which is, the record has a lot to do with my own fears and doubts. Really for the future of human beings if I want to be really specific. It's nothing less than that. And my parents have lived through so much. They both lived through the depression, my father was a veteran of World War II. He was part of the Normandy Beach D-Day thing happening and he survived it. My mother was a week away from having a baby during the Bay of Pigs. You know, they've lived through so much of this, as all human beings have. And they also came from really humble beginnings. And they've taken all of this stuff that they've lived through and tried to really focus on their responsibility and their humanity. I just think they're really inspiring people, and I'm also very aware of their imperfections, but I do see their struggle and how dedicated they are to being good human beings and responsible to others and it's really inspiring to me. We tossed around a lot of ideas of how to go about putting 'Impossible Dream' on the record, because I really wanted to do that, and they were just one of the things that Craig Ross, the producer of the record, and I decided to record, and they won out (laughs). It was so beautiful.

GS: It is. I understand that you were Joined by Phoebe Snow at your Cutting Room showcase in NYC.

PG: Yeah, she came and sang. It was pretty fun (laughs). I was pretty little when 'Poetry Man' was a big hit, but my older sister was absolutely in love with her, and it was really exciting to hear her sing, two feet away.

GS: Speaking of sharing a stage, you will be touring with Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch on the Sweet Harmony Tour. Will you performing together in any of the shows?

PG: I think that the focus will be that we'll each do our own parts separately and then have a certain point in the show where we're all together doing things.

GS: There continues to be signs of a return to people listening to singer/songwriters; with new discs by you and Jonatha Brooke and Norah Jones, and debuts by Rachael Yamagata. What does it mean to you to be a singer/songwriter at this time in musical history?

PG: I feel lucky that it's what I do for a living. I'm sure you can relate, being a writer. I mean, we're really lucky that we have a platform to speak from and share these things and try to connect to other human beings. Because a lot of people don't have that outlet, and I think it's really important, right now, to be able to connect with others.

GS: VH1 is airing the latest installment of VH1 Divas series, which raises money for musical education in schools, and there are indications they are expanding the palette with the inclusion of Joss Stone, Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Harry. Do you have any interest in being a VH1 Diva?

PG: (Laughs) Never really thought about it before. Interesting idea (laughs).

This article shared 3001 times since Wed May 5, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Pitchfork Music Festival returns and turns 15 in 2021 2021-09-17
- Pitchfork Music Festival turned 15 years old in Chicago this year after being cancelled last year because of the pandemic. This lively celebration of eclectic music continued in the same spot (Union Park) with the usual ...

Gay News

'Andersonville Homecoming' Sept. 24-26; line-up, vendors, safety protocols announced 2021-09-15
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Sept. 15, 2021) — The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to announce the full entertainment line-up and vendors for Andersonville Homecoming--a three-night, two-day outdoor festival featuring ...

Gay News

Students urged to apply for Musical Theatre Awards 2021-09-14
- Broadway in Chicago is inviting high schools across Illinois to participate in the 11th Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. These awards celebrate excellence in high school theater throughout the state. Beginning Thursday, Sept. 16, ...

Gay News

CAIC announces 2021 Collaborative Works Festival, immigration, migration in song 2021-09-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO— Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) begins its eleventh anniversary season with its annual Collaborative Works Festival, held in venues around Chicago from October 6—9, 2021. The 2021 Collaborative ...

Gay News

MUSIC Lil Nas X wins top award at MTV VMAs 2021-09-13
- The MTV VMA Awards took place Sept. 12—and an LGBTQ+ artist took home one of the night's top awards. Lil Nas X won Video of the Year for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," besting Cardi ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Boy Meets Boy,' Jennifer Hudson, 'SVU,' tennis honor, ABBA 2021-09-12
- Ariztical Entertainment is releasing the German movie Boy Meets Boy on DVD and VOD on Oct. 26. According to a press release, the plot of the 70-minute movie is as follows: "Harry has been partying for ...

Gay News

Pride Fest will extend to Oct. 3; headliners include Kristine W and Mya 2021-09-12
- Mya, Shangela, VINCINT, Crystal Waters, Kristine W, Brooke Eden and St. Panther are among the headliners for Chicago Pride Fest now taking place over three days, Oct. 1-3, in Chicago's LGBTQ+ landmark Northalsted/Lake View district. The ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dear Mom, I'm Gay!' on Oct. 1-2 2021-09-11
- Dear Mom, I'm Gay!—a workshop of a new musical by David Dilsizian—is running at The Jarvis Square Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave. It will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1; and 2 and ...

Gay News

ARC Music Festival debuts in Chicago over Labor Day Weekend 2021-09-11
- Replacing North Coast Music Festival's usual spot in Union Park, ARC Music Festival launched Sept. 4-5. North Coast was forced to move to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, that same weekend to a stadium that was ...

Gay News

MUSIC 'Global Citizen Live' to run Sept. 25-26 2021-09-09
- International advocacy organization Global Citizen announced the expansion of "Global Citizen Live" to include Los Angeles and London with an outdoor event in L.A., which is presented by Verizon, and headlined by Stevie Wonder with Adam ...

Gay News

'Close-Up with Carmen' Sept. 9 at Center on Halsted 2021-09-08
- 'Close-Up with Carmen'—about the intersection of drag and opera—will take place Thursday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. During this event, participants will discuss cross-dressi ...

Gay News

Britney Spears' dad petitions to end conservatorship 2021-09-08
- In a huge win for pop star Britney Spears, her father and the conservator of her estate, Jamie Spears, filed a petition to end the arrangement on Sept. 7, media outlets reported. Jamie cited his daughter's ...

Gay News

Footwork dancers to be featured Sept. 10 in Art on theMART event 2021-09-05
- "Dance Down by The River"—an evening of Chicago dance and music—is coming to the Riverwalk in conjunction with Art on theMART thanks to a Chicago Presents grant awarded by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and ...

Gay News

MUSIC Upcoming 'Carmen' featuring queer lead, male drag 2021-09-05
- On Sept. 16 and 18 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St., Chicago audiences will have the rare opportunity to hear two world-class dramatic mezzo-sopranos debut new roles opposite one another ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Idol' alums, Zendaya, Gaga, 'Queer As Folk,' women rappers 2021-09-05
- American Idol alum David Archuleta said that God urged him to come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, NBC News noted. The Nashville resident told he wasn't sure if the community would embrace ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.