Nanci Griffith – Denver Botanical Gardens, CO

Nanci came into the venue from the main building, right through the crowds. She wore a white button up tunic sheer top with a white tank top underneath and worn light blue jeans. She had on flip flops which were gone a few songs into the set. She started by waving to all four sides (the venue is set up so there are people on all sides) and then saying “Good Evening Denver!”

She went right into Simple Life and after the song said hi to a baby in the front with his dad. She said it was a “pleasure to be here among all the growth and that she was going to sing a song written by John Prine and that it had been “good to both of us”, Speed Of the Sound of Loneliness.

Then the next song was a “tune of mine that’s a thumbnail sketch of two singer songwriters, the late Kate Wolf and (someone else) who had something else in common, they both left their abusive husbands in a car they had bought for them. This song is for anyone who needs this, the keys are in the ignition, motors runnin’ in that Ford Econoline!” She used the pedal to the metal adlibs and at the end she said “keep it up mama, next year you’re gonna be driving yourself a brand new electric Humvee!”

This is the point in which the shoes came off, “it’s so hot my shoes are slippin’ off my feet so I’m just gonna take em off!” Nanci explained how the Blue Moon Orchestra comes and goes “off to greener pastures” and that she should have “named the band the Greener Pastures Orchestra”

She introduced the next song as one that was “the first song I wrote with James and it takes on a new meaning” and she talked about going to New Orleans and seeing the destruction and how there was no way to depict the damage but the bluebonnets rebounded and the recovery would take a long time so we shouldn’t forget they still need us on the Gulf Coast Highway.

After the song she said that she heard somebody order a Corona and that “me, I have a high-altitude frog living rent-free in my throat. I could us a Corona, I’ll take a Coors too. Anyway, two of my deep-dark secrets are #1, I watch soaps. All My Children, Days of our Lives, Eastenders (to which she punched the air and added Forever!) On Eastenders, they aren’t like soaps, they aren’t doctors and lawyers but they live in (some city) and are (something). My other secret is I treasure my collection of social columns, such a beauty of Americana. When you read the Metro page about which one of your neighbors rand over their selves in the driveway with no one at the wheel but the social pages are about the parents and the wedding colors and it’s precious. This is a song about three of the couples that touched me, not that the other’s weren’t special but then it would have been an Arlo Guthrie forty-five minute song.

She got interrupted because someone brought her a Corona to which she said “Thank you! That’ll send that frog a-packing!” She went into Love Conquers All.

The next song “needs no introduction but goes out to everyone, these kids dancing, everyone. This song was written by Julie Gold, the greatest world anthem for peace I’ve recorded it in five languages, not will have but have.” She said From A Distance in the different languages, then ended the song with the Spanish version and blew kisses to all the kids in front. Then she grabbed her water bottle (instead of the Corona) and said “ahh, now back to the straight vodka”

She went to introduce the Blue Moon Orchestra. Then she told about how Jimmy Buffet played on the song with her and then did I Love This Town and then she told a story about her stepdad and how he was great even though you hear all these stories about bad step parents but he wasn’t like that at all and he was really cool and he played in these bands and he was the best piano player around.

She played Beautiful and then scatted at the end, being very energetic in her dancing. She then laughed and said “Scatting is like yodeling, you’re either born able to do it or you’re not. I’m not, but I do it anyway. My Pops (step-dad) tried to teach me piano but I didn’t have enough patience but guitar was easier. Piano was just too hard, this is the only song I ever wrote on the piano because it was early, 5am in the morning and I didn’t have a guitar, Late Night Grande Hotel.”

Then she had to re-tune, she said “a long time, far away I used to write all these songs in weird tunings, my guitar tech is going (puts her forehead in her hand and shakes her head). Luckily, I can do it, we could do a Hanes commercial, (she sings like in the jingle) wait till we get our hands on you”. Then she said “I feel really lucky, this is my lucky year, I was born in 1953 and I’m 53. How lucky is that, how often does that happen? I wrote this song in 1983. I was doing a songwriters thing in Ann Arbor Michigan and some songs are self-destructive but some of them put you back together, this is Working In Corners“.

“As most of you know, since 1998 we’ve worked with the Mine Advisory Group, MAG, the Princess Diana thing and the Vietnam Veterans of America Fund to get landmines out, running clinics and things. ” She said that her work with them had taken her to the four corners of the earth, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, Vietnam, this goes out to all veterans on both sides and lets hope that it doesn’t take another 30 years for me to be able to write a song like this again for the Middle East, Heart of Indochie.

She went straight into Love at the Five and Dime and then told a great story about how she used to listen to the Grand Ole Opry in Texas and sometimes the station would cut to a Spanish station and she would hope and pray that it would come back on before Loretta Lynn came on the radio. She then was telling us how finally Jack White and someone else introduced her to Loretta, and they were so proud to be finally the ones to introduce them and the only thing Nanci could think to say was “Miss Loretta, I learned Spanish waiting for you to come on the radio” and she said, “Jack White went that-away, the other one went this-away and Loretta’s so cool that she just said, ‘Sit down now honey, tell me all about it.'” She then declared that Loretta was a queen and “Long may she rule!” and then played Listen To The Radio.

Then she joked how all of her exes lived in Texas, because she’d only been married once but she’d had a lot of boyfriends and sometimes they like to drink-and-dial her this one was for them and then she said something about a left-wing preacher (??) and sang Last Train Home and ended it with “all aboard, tickets please!”

She talked about how she was in Belfast Ireland when the debates between Quail and Benson were going on and how after a few zingers she got bored and put in on mute and wrote this song and how her grandmother’s said that sometimes things aren’t the prettiest but they’re the most important and that they were always right, and that even after Benson passed they remembered all he did to help the underdog and that this song was in memory of him tonight, It’s A Hard Life.

That was the last song, and then she went to the corner of the stage for the wait between the encore and then she sang some song that Buddy Holly did.

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