Kate Rice


Patty Griffin is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard. I first caught her thanks to — of course — Wyoming Public Radio. The song was “Let Him Fly,” an acoustic ode to finally giving up on an impossible relationship… 

Ain’t no talking to this man
Ain’t no pretty other side
Ain’t no way to understand the stupid words of pride
It would take an acrobat and I already tried all that
So I’m gonna let him fly

“Let Him Fly” by Patty Griffin

Her words are artistic yet real; not something slapped together just because it rhymes. Her voice is plaintive yet strong. And her style is hard to pigeonhole — sometimes she warbles sweet alt folk or country lyrics. On more upbeat tunes she wails like a rock star. And there are gospel songs delivered with the passion of a poetic sermon. 

She sings about love, but not always the happily-ever-after kind. There’s plenty of loss in her songs as well. “Long Ride Home” is told from the perspective of a man who’s lost his wife of 40 years, and how it feels to return home without her…

Headlights searchin’ down the driveway
The house is dark as it can be
I go inside and all is silent
And seems as empty as the inside of me

“Long Ride Home” by Patty Griffin

Not all of her songs are depressing (although I’ll admit that most of my favorites are — I mean, when you listen to her voice, you just know she gets whatever stuff you’re going through). “I Don’t Ever Give Up” delivers a hopeful message about taking responsibility for your choices yet moving forward…

I’m no kid
In a kid’s game
I did what I did
I’ve got no one to blame
But I don’t give up
No, I don’t ever give up
It’s all I’ve got
It’s my claim to fame

YouTube video

I do have a confession to make. Years and years ago, I went through a brief period where I couldn’t listen to Patty G because her sad stuff resonated so deeply with me. (Note: In retrospect, this “dark period” was actually just me being dramatic, but at the time it felt legit.) That’s how powerful her voice and lyrics are. 

If I had to choose a favorite song (which is nearly impossible, but let’s say I was forced to choose) I’d go with “Top of the World.” Someone realizing, after their life is over and it’s too late, all the things they could have done differently…

“Top of the World” by Patty Griffin

I wished I’d have known you
Wished I’d have shown you
All of the things I was on the inside
But I’d pretend to be sleeping
When you’d come in in the morning
To whisper goodbye
And go to work in the rain
I don’t know why
Don’t know why

Listen to Patty Griffin on streaming platforms like Spotify, or search out more of her live performances on YouTube. I also recommend buying her albums on CD or vinyl through places like downtown’s Sonic Rainbow. I love all of her works, but a few of my favorites are Living with Ghosts, Impossible Dream and American Kid. And let me leave you with a few more of her songs…

“Rain” by Patty Griffin

“Prayer in Open D” by Patty Griffin

“Get Lucky” by Patty Griffin