Patty Griffin: Mary
Hands down, my favorite song for this week's theme. Patty Griffin's smooth, atmospheric pop paean to her grandmother is utterly gorgeous, perfectly touching, eminently sad - a stunning tribute to the secretive, strong Catholic mother figures that haunted the fifties and sixties.
Its emergence on the otherwise terribly overproduced Flaming Red, perhaps the most flawed gem in Griffin's canon, saved the record from total obscurity in my own collection and others. But ultimately, this song is exceptionally well served by its echoey high-pop production. Indeed, despite the bombastic tone of so much of the rest of its album, the song's success aptly demonstrated Patty's adeptness in songcraft far beyond just stripped down folksinger mode - which is to say, though both takes share the same eminently recognizable harmony and slow heartbeat drums, the acoustic version off her live album just doesn't have the kick that this one does.