Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Adjective Noun: Silver Bell

Patty Griffin: Silver Bell


Patty Griffin's ill fated Silver Bell album has been mentioned here before, but I felt the need to revisit it this week.

Going into the year 2000, Patty Griffin was seemingly on an artistic high. The Dixie Chicks had recorded her song, "Let Him Fly" on their Fly album that sold 10 million copies. The Chicks then took Patty on tour with them and told anyone who would listen that she was their favorite songwriter on the planet. It seemed Patty would have a ready made audience for her third studio album when it was released later in the year. That's when things turned south.

Griffin's A&M label was swallowed whole by Universal Music Group in 1998 and she was shifted off to the Interscope imprint. She was now label mates with Snoop Dogg among others. Then, in 2000, UMG was gobbled up by Vivendi just weeks before Patty was to turn in her new album. Regardless, Griffin recorded, mixed, and mastered the songs that were to make up Silver Bell and delivered them to the new label heads. The label's response was to ask her to record a brand new album, with brand new songs, and a brand new band... something that would be more "radio friendly."

Rather than do that, Patty negotiated her way out of her contract with Vivendi/UMG. She was free... Silver Bell was not. She was unable to buy back the masters of the album. It has still never been properly released.

Fortunately, the music has found its way out into the open, as good music often will. Bootlegs of the album are openly traded on the official forums at, and several of the songs have seen official release in alternate versions. Patty rerecorded "Making Pies," "Top of the World," and "Standing" for future albums, and The Dixie Chicks released "Truth No. 2," and "Top of the World" on their 2002 release Home.

The song featured here is the title track to Patty Griffin's album that never was. It's a rocking number that really makes me wonder why the suits at her label thought no one would buy this album. It has never been released in any proper form, but I was lucky enough to see Patty perform this song live at The Ryman a few years back.

The purchase link above goes to the results of a search for Patty Griffin at

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