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Lyrically Speaking: Patty Griffin's Burgandy Shoes

Patty Griffin
Patty Griffin

To me, Patty Griffin is a vastly underappreciated singer and songwriter in popular music. Maybe the word popular is the problem. She is far outside the realm of the fans of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and even to a majority of those who love, say, Bruce Springsteen. But those who know her and have really listened to her songs love her voice, one that can deliver beauty or a growl as needed. She was my first voice crush and continues to be to this day. Her album “Impossible Dream” is one of my top 5 albums of all time… yes, all time. Patty’s lyrics capture the desperate, the needy, the redemptive. Love is usually just out of reach but not too far that hope is extinguished.

 One of my favorite songs is “Burgundy Shoes,” from the album “Children Running Through.” It’s a tune she says was written after she was challenged by a friend to write a happy song. It captures a pleasurable memory of a bus trip with her mother when she was a young child growing up in Maine. I just love the childlike details she captures in her description of that ride: “The bus driver smiles, a dime and a nickel/We climb on our seats, the vinyl is cold/”Michelle ma belle,”a song that you loved then/You hold my hand and sing to yourself.”

“Burgundy Shoes” by Patty Griffin We wait for the bus that’s going to Bangor In my plaid dress and burgundy shoes In your red lipstick and lilac kerchief You’re the most pretty lady in the world Sun

The bus driver smiles, a dime and a nickel We climb on our seats, the vinyl is cold “Michelle ma belle,” a song that you loved then You hold my hand and sing to yourself Sun

The leaves are green and new like a baby Tulips are red, now I don’t miss the snow It’s the first day I don’t wear my big boots You hold my hand, I’ve got burgundy shoes Sun

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