I first heard Patty Griffin on KCRW when I moved to the Los Angeles area from Connecticut in 1995. I was 24 years old and adventurous and stupid and thank God, because at 41 I know all about the things that can go wrong, and if I tried to do something like that all by myself I would surely chicken out now.
I moved into a two bedroom apartment in Pasadena with Lisa. The building was named Hampshire House, except that the second H was broken, so it looked like Hampshire Louse. The manager lived on site. His name was Jay, and he was a camera man, and he was kind enough to let me into my apartment on the few times I locked myself out.
Lisa was in medical school and kept very long hours. I worked a 9-to-5 job at an insurance company. I called myself Blue Suit Girl. I made some other friends but at first I spent almost every Friday night home alone. I turned this into a ritual that involved dark beer, The X-Files, and assembling Ikea furniture.
One on fine misty day I drove up into the San Gabriel mountains looking for a trailhead, because my favorite exercise in those days was hiking, and I was foolish enough (see above) to go hiking alone on many occasions. Patty Griffin came on the radio, and I had to pull over to listen. Her voice cut straight through the mist to my heart. I sobbed with loneliness and frustration and the relief that coes from being known, even by a songwriter I’d never met.
Griffin’s music has been used to illustrate pop culture enough that you might recognize this song, but before I even listened to the story, the lines soothed me while they made me cry. Now, of course, it’s exactly the kind of song that stabs me right there.
You are not alone
Laying in the light
Put out the fire in your head
And lay with me tonight
I was talking to a friend earlier today and we were discussing mementos. Sentimental items. Little gifts that have meaning. I said they can remind you of a time when you felt a certain way. And that even if that time and that person is long gone, you can remember that once you held her, or him, and you loved each other, and that happened, and that matters. It’s part of you. You’re not really alone, because one time, somewhere, that love was true.Pin It