Now I don’t want to beg you, baby, for something maybe you could never give

I love getting new CDs.

It’s a great feeling when the release day finally arrives for a CD you’ve been anticipating. Because I’m a bit of a dork, I’ll get up and get ready with the intention of being at the CD store just as soon as they open. I’ll run in, buy my CD and pop it in the CD player as soon as I get in my car. I’ll carry that CD with me to and from the car as I continue the day.

Tuesday was the release day for the latest Patty Griffin disc, Impossible Dream. I’ve only been waiting since, oh, about the time I fell madly in love with Patty’s music. This is the first studio disc she’s released since I’ve been a fan.

The trouble with Patty is that I can never decide which of her albums is my favorite. I have them all… love them all. (Okay, okay… I like Flaming Red. But one out of six ain’t bad.) When my friend Josh called me to discuss the album on Wednesday, I hadn’t determined my favorite track just yet.

I’ve had a few days to digest it now, and I think I’m ready to talk. The conclusion that I’ve reached is that there are different Pattys for different moods. There are exceptions to every rule, but in my mind, each of these albums has its own overriding tone.

  • Living with Ghosts – I love the simplicity of a girl with her guitar. Patty’s voice shines on this album. No, it’s not perfection – there are awkward moments – but it’s real. This is the album I put on when I’m feeling bitter and want to shout it out (“Every Little Bit”) or despondent and sorry for myself (“Moses”).
  • Flaming Red – Patty plugged in sees the most time in my player on Friday mornings when I’m getting ready. It’s a great dancing-around-while-putting-on-make-up CD…. and yes, I realize that not every song fits that description. They’re my least favorites. (On the other hand, I love “Carry Me.”)
  • Silver Bell – My love for this CD may be amplified by its relative rarity. It also suits the most diverse array of moods… tracks at the beginning (“Boston,” “Perfect White Girls”) fit my dancing-around-and-singing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs moods. Several songs (“Little God,” “Driving”) fall somewhere between that and a more melancholy place; they still have opportunities for belting it out, but the passion is somehow different. My favorites on the CD (“Top of the World,” “One More Girl”) are depressing and leave me in the mood to bawl. The production on this CD may not be as clean as it could be… but what do you expect of a disc that was never actually released? That’s fine by me.
  • 1000 Kisses – When I’m in the mood to fall in love, 1000 Kisses gets the most airtime. These are mostly not happy songs, but their instrumentation tugs at me. They’re lyrically beautiful and they leave me reflecting on life. (“I’m not looking for the rest of your life/ I just want another chance to live”) Patty is my favorite songwriter because it’s so easy for me to relate to her.
  • A Kiss in Time – The only way I can describe the mood that moves me to play this CD is as a “diverse Patty” mood. A live compilation of songs from Patty’s first three (released) studio discs has its own appeal. There are versions on this CD that I prefer to the original (“Be Careful,” for example, though it is the song that made me fall in love with Patty’s music in the first place.)
  • Impossible Dream – Finally we get to the CD that inspired this rambling. 🙂 I’ve decided that this is my sad Patty CD. Again, there are exceptions – “Love Throw a Line” is upbeat, and though its lyrics are melancholy, “Useless Desires” sparkles. (It’s the mandolin.) Those two stand out to me now because I’ve been in a good mood all week, but I think my favorite is “Florida.” That’s not just because I grew up there – though it plays a part. 🙂 It’s just a beautiful song… and again, there’s something sad about it. (Of course, not in my favorite part – the first two verses just remind me of driving around Jacksonville with my friends: “Couple of young girls went/ Sailing down on A1A/ To the arms of Florida/ Sailing down the highway/ Singing their heads off/ Protected by the Holy Ghost/ Flying in from the ocean/ Driving with their eyes closed”) I also think this is her strongest album as far coherence is concerned. It doesn’t end on a weak note, as do the others.
  • Yeah, so pretty much you don’t want to call and ask me my thoughts about a new CD… ’cause this is what you get, days later. I’ll have to share this with my friend next time we talk.

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