Nanci Griffith,
Poet in My Window
(self-produced, 1986;
Rounder/Philo, 2002)

If you look through Nanci Griffith's Poet in My Window, you're sure to find some poetry in motion. Yet, I think it's the music that moves the poetry, rather than the words. In truth, this is great poetry -- although nothing to climb out the window for. But, of course, poetry speaks to different people in different ways.

Eleven of the twelve songs are Griffith's own poetic creations, inspired by such varied sources as Carson McCullers, roses, Marilyn Monroe, wheels, Thomas Wolfe and angels. Griffith's poems are "Can't Love Wrong," "Marilyn Monroe/Neon and Waltzes," "Heart of a Miner," "Julie Ann," "You Can't Go Home Again," "October Reasons," "Wheels," "Workin' in Corners," "Waltzing with the Angels," "Trouble with Roses," "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" and "Poet in My Window," all sung in a southern folk style.

The city streets are harder understanding
It would be easy for the devil to pass by
But she can close her eyes and dream about
the country boy
Chain of gold and a lullaby
Because he's waltzing with the angels tonight.

- from "Waltzing With the Angels"

Soft, yet confident vocals by Griffith sing above smooth arpeggios played by Griffith and guitarist Brian Wood. The Gulf Coasters, Wells Young, Eric and Evelyne Taylor, John Hill, John Grosnick, Dick Blatter, James Hooker, Pat McInerney, Ron dela Vega, John Catchings and Doug Lancio lend their talents on this, Griffith's fourth disc recorded for Philo, newly re-released for a new generation of listeners.

And while the music is definitely pleasant, it makes me wonder, where have all the poets gone? You know, the ones who don't need to rely on the music.

[ by Lynne Remick ]
Rambles: 27 July 2002

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