Nanci Griffith's Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music

Nanci Griffith's Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music


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Nanci Griffith's Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music by Nanci Griffith, Joe Jackson

Nanci Griffith's distinct blend of pop, rockabilly, and folk has made her one of the most respected, popular, and loved singer-songwriters working today. Having released fourteen of her own critically acclaimed albums as well as recording countless guest appearances on other artists' albums and contributing to film scores, Nanci creates music that has taken root all over the world—her melodies and lyrics resonating wherever they are heard. The Grammy award-winning album Other Voices, Other Rooms—one of the most successful albums of contemporary folk music ever—marked a watershed moment in Nanci Griffith's career. Not only is it her sole album of cover songs, but it is also a seamless blend of tradition, collaboration, and innovation. The follow-up album, Other Voices, Too: A Trip Back to Bountiful, continues that tradition of passing on other writers' work and presenting folk music as a vital force in today's music.
Go behind the scenes with Nanci Griffith and listen in on a very special conversation with Joe Jackson, an acclaimed music journalist, as they explore the roots and inspiration for Nanci's extraordinary career and trace the history of the folk music movement.
This book is a guide to Nanci's trip back to bountiful—to the place where inspiration springs freely. With more than one hundred behind-the-scenes photographs and candid interviews with Nanci and her collaborators, including John Lomax III, Emmylou Harris, Dave Van Ronk, Pete Seeger, Odetta, the members of the Blue Moon Orchestra, and many, many others, this book offers a rareglimpse into the artistic heart and soul of one of this country's greatest musical treasures: Nanci Griffith.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609803073
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/14/1998
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 7.41(w) x 9.15(h) x 0.63(d)


Before the live chat, Nanci Griffith agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q: Why did you decide to put your music in front of a symphony now?

A: Nanci Griffith: It's an idea that's been accumulating over the years. I've been asked to perform with symphonies a number of times, and it was my way of putting closure to 25 years of songwriting, to be able to paint these songs with the colors of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Q: You're planning to stop writing, are you?

A: NG: Oh, no! In fact, I'm writing like crazy right at the moment. It just means for me, as the writer, closure on these songs, to say this is the best possible presentation I could possibly give of my own writing of them. I wanted to share that with my fans. I wanted there to be a thread -- I wanted the whole Dust Bowl Symphony to be a solid piece of work, basically taking songs from different periods of the last 25 years.

Q: What surprised you the most about making the recording?

A: NG: How easy it was. And how wonderful it was to have a great conductor like Andrew Jackman conducting me, so that I disappeared and became part of the symphony. It was like being taken out of the control tower, you know? It was a breeze. All the songs were done in one or two takes.

Q: How do you think recording in London influenced the music?

A: NG: We recorded at Abbey Road. I think the atmosphere of being there -- nothing's changed since the Beatles, they still have the same horrible fluorescent lighting they always had, and the same tile on the floor -- was very inspirational.

Q: There was one song you didn't record there, "1937 Pre-War Kimball," that you do with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Glen D. Hardin. There's a story behind that?

A: NG: I had just finished writing this song about my piano and booked the time in the studio to go and do a demo of it, and my band was out of town. I'd always wanted to work with Beth, so I called her up and asked her if she'd want to come sing on this demo -- and then I called Glen D. and said, "Glen D., I need a piano player, will you come play piano for me?" He said, "Great, James Hooker's finally out of town! I'll do it." So it was just the three of us. I had donated the piano to the W. O. Smith School in Nashville, which teaches musical skills to children. Beth and I support the school, and many other musicians including Shania Twain, Harlan Howard, Steve Winwood, and Chet Atkins do as well. Anyway, the morning that we made the demo, we got word that the W. O. Smith School had been firebombed and the piano was destroyed. It's so sad that that anyone would do that, and it's so ironic that it happened just that way. But I guess the piano is immortal now!

Q: Whose music are you listening to these days?

A: NG: I really like Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris's new album. It's a wonderful, wonderful piece of work, and something they've been longing to do for years. And I'm always listening to Gillian Welch and Iris DeMent.

Q: Since you recorded with a symphony this time out -- do you have a favorite piece of classical music?

A: NG: I certainly do. Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings is absolutely my all-time favorite piece of music.

Q: Who influenced your writing early on?

A: NG: I was most heavily influenced by Buddy Holly and the Crickets -- and continue to be influenced by the Crickets daily. You know, everybody thinks Buddy wrote all those songs, but they were the first band who all cowrote their own songs. They'll always be the first influence for me -- they made me want to have my name in parentheses below the song as a writer. Loretta Lynn was an incredible force and a great influence on my music -- she was so ahead of her time without trying to be. She broke all boundaries. Harlan Howard, 'cause he's just one of America's great jewels as a songwriter. And Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt were certainly major influences too.

Q: You've said that you'd like The Dust Bowl Symphony to find new paths, open up new audiences...

A: NG: It already has. You know, the beauty of working with a symphony, for me, is being able to take contemporary music, as a songwriter, into a symphonic genre and experience that and continue to learn. James Taylor said that working with symphonies is about being a musical adult. It continues to open new doors and new fans up to me that I'm just blessed with. I know one show we were doing with the Austin Symphony, my dad was sitting next to a couple who were just there for the symphony, you know, because it was a symphony concert. But then, they might have been sitting next to a bunch of college kids who were Nanci Griffith fans. That's the beauty of it, bringing all these people together, such a variety of folks. That's such a wonderful experience.

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