Monday, January 18, 2010

Songs resting upon their tongues


For my money, you just can't beat a live show.

When it's good, it's brilliant. The songs, the crowd, the energy, the magic. What a moment. It's hard to describe, but you know it when it happens.

A friend let me borrow a fantastic live album recorded by singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith in 1988 at a quaint place called Anderson Fair in Houston. I'd love to go there. It sounds like my kind of joint.

Here, let's let Nanci describe it:

"That music hall...with it's blue upright house piano and nights of music when it was so crowded you couldn't find your pockets to put your hands in them...where the quality of an evening isn't measured by the proprietor according to the amount of beer and wine sold across the bar but by the contented faces of patrons who leave his red brick floors with songs resting upon their tongues."

Pretty good, huh?

I've darkened the doors of a few such haunts. The Ark, in Ann Arbor, Mich., comes to mind. So does the Down Home in Johnson City. You're there to hear the music. If you want to talk loud and make an ass of yourself, hit the exits.

The album is a good one. Nanci opens with Patrick Alger's "Once in a very Blue Moon" and sings a dozen songs, including Eric Taylor's "Deadwood, South Dakota" and her big hit "Love at the Five and Dime."

I once tried to see Nanci in Knoxville. It was a benefit for the Tennessee Theatre. Sold out. Shucks.

She sings with such grace, and yet with such feeling, sure to send goosebumps slithering down your spine.

What I would have given to have stepped in for "One Fair Summer Evening" all those years ago. As it is, I listen to my CD, lose myself in the harmony, and anticipate the day I find yet another such place, where the beer is good, but the music is better, and songs rest upon your tongue.

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