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Songs that Stopped Me in My Tracks, Vol. 1

2014 July 9
by Mike Vial

I’m creating playlists of songs I love, centered around a story about one song that stopped me in my tracks. Volume 1 centers around Patty Griffin’s “Every Little Bit”.

* * * Volume 1. The Ghost that Got Away * * *

When I was a freshmen in high school, I was obsessed with heavy metal and industrial music.

I know. Weird, huh? Probably hard to picture me walking around in a KMFDM t-shirt (which I did, while attending my first high school dance at Divine Child High School.)

Honestly, I embraced all styles of music as a teenager, but when I found an acoustic guitar at the crossroads, I took a turn and never looked back.

One song that stopped me in my tracks was hearing Patty Griffin’s “Every Little Bit” on Acoustic Cafe. I was floored by her voice, by that acoustic guitar, by those intimate lyrics:

“You left open the window till the morning/And the winter walked in
Reality fired her wooden bullet/Splintered under our skin
They say I’m walking on freedom/This is freedom/now I know…”

Before the Internet, when I heard a song I liked on the radio, but missed the name of the artist or song, I felt like my life was incomplete. The song became a ghost that haunted me. What if I never heard that song again?

And that’s what happened when I first heard Griffin’s “Every Little Bit.” I missed who sang the song and the title. I didn’t hear it again for a long time.

For a few years, I simply called it, ‘That ghost song.”

“I still don’t blame you for leaving,baby/It’s cold living with ghosts”

When I was learning guitar, I accidentally discovered the the chord pattern, the way the G chord form floats up to Bb and C on the guitar, the droning strings in the middle…I still didn’t know who sang that song or the title, but I had found the chords!

* * * * *

I forget when I finally discovered Patty Griffin, the author of the song that haunted me for years. I think it was during college. Today, I can simply type in the song on my Spotify account. The ghost is now captured in the digital cloud, but it still stops me in my tracks.

Music might be easier to find now, but songs can still be ghosts that haunt us.


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