Saturday Single No. 729

One of the most-represented artists on the shelves here came to me twenty-eight years ago today. Like today, March 20, 1993, was a Saturday, and I was scouting out a new-to-me used record store on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Avenue.

The store was, if I recall rightly, about five blocks north of Lake Street, in an area unfamiliar to me. There was nothing shady about the neighborhood; it was home to, among many other things, a German restaurant I’d visited occasionally. But beyond several instances of schnitzel and beer over the years, I knew little about the area.

A record store is always going to draw me in, though, and as I wandered through the stacks and racks of this one – its name long-forgotten – my eye was caught by a record jacket tucked into the folk and country section:

Last Of The True Believers, The

I don’t recall the price, but I’m sure it didn’t cost more than a couple of bucks, and I added Nanci Griffith’s The Last of the True Believers, a 1986 album, to the other two records I’d grabbed that morning – Don McLean’s self-titled album from 1972 and Glenn Yarbrough’s Honey & Wine from 1967 – and headed to the cash register and then home. And, I assume, sometime that afternoon or evening, I listened to the eleven tracks on The Last of the True Believers and encountered Nanci Griffith’s unique voice and diction for the first time.

I added two more albums over the next few years, and when I began to buy CDs, added yet more of Griffith’s music. And by the time we get to today, twenty-eight years since I first heard her voice, there are 261 of her tracks on the digital shelves.

Simply by that total, I’d have to acknowledge that she’s my favorite of the artists found at that intersection of folk and country. (Darden Smith, whose music I’ve mentioned here many times, comes in second with a total of 180 tracks.) And there are only six artists of any genre whose music is better represented on the digital stacks here. (Fodder for a post in the next week, likely.)

So today, March 20, is Nanci Griffith Day around here. And to celebrate, here’s “Love At The Five & Dime,” the best track from The Last of the True Believers. I offered the song once before in a version from a later album, but here’s the original version, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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