Wings To Fly and a Place To be by Nanci Griffiths is a great album to listen to while driving, and on slightly windswept but beautifully sunny days it's the perfect set-up for a drive to the studio in the morning (and in the evening, too). It's not an official album, really, but an introductory collection released that features songs from six of her albums, from Once In A Very Blue Moon (1984) until Storms (1989). Wings To Fly captures all that I love and admire about Nanci as an artist. Her wonderful songs and pipe clear voice. On top of that are her easy wit, sharp tongue, ways as a raconteur, and her rapport with an audience.
As well as the good music, re-visiting this album brought with a renewed admiration for the spirit and power of Griffiths' songwriting. There is a sense of freedom and empowerment - for all comers, but women in particular. A car, a stretch of road and, if you're lucky, a good song on the radio, can set you on the path to a new life and a new start. America's landscape, particularly the southern and mid-western part of it, provide a contextual framework within which Nanci herself, and the characters in her songs, love, work, lament; sometimes with happiness in their heart, sometimes not. It is these great shades of colour, of a land so big and wide, known and unknown at the same time, and that offer a tiny window into how we are, fundamentally, as humans.