#109 Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls (1989)

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers first met and got to know each other as students at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia, just outside of Decatur, Georgia, but were not friends because Saliers was a grade older than Ray.The girls got signed due to the success of Tracy Chapman,Suzanne Vega and other female singer/songwriters in the late 1980’s & also because of the explosion of the music scene in Athens,GA, spearheaded by REM. Although “Closer To Fine” would be the only radio hit spawned from this album this record, it is deep with acoustic driven folk quality.

As I wrote in an earlier post, just after high school I briefly had a job cleaning at an Oldsmobile dealership at night after they had closed. I was the only person in the building and I used to open the doors on several cars & tune them to the same radio station and crank it up so I had music while I was working. At the time I was into listening to Cities 97 (when they were still cool) and every night they would play the Indigo Girls “Closer To Fine”. The song quickly grew on me,  to the point that I went out and bought the album. I still find “Closer To Fine” to be a folk masterpiece. Period. The lyrical content of this song is a gift of poem that is rivaled by few in folk music history (Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable…and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear &…I wrapped my fear around me like a blanket and I sailed my ship of safety til I sank it).To me the song is a journey of self introspection and a persons own internal struggle to justify the meaning of their own existence (I’m trying tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black & white) and coming to the conclusion that perhaps we are just trying to hard (..and the best thing you’ve ever done for me is to help me take my life lass seriously, its only life after all…&…. there’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line, and the less I seek my source for some definitive…closer I am to fine) . The ability of Amy and Emily to seamlessly harmonize together vocally is showcased on this song and breathes life into the words. When I got this CD I played it constantly to the dis-consternation of my girlfriend at the time. She said she also liked the disc, just not all the time. Sorry Buffy.

The subject matter is often heavy and the songs are sometimes borderline depressing (Prince of Darkness,Blood and Fire,Kid Fears). “Love”s Recovery” is a beautiful ballad. It starts with the empty and desperate feeling of one who has been betrayed by their partner. That feeling of not wanting your love to die and desperately trying to figure out if love can or should be saved. That deep feeling of despair that only a person who has been through it can fully relate.It than transitions to the recollection of the path that led you to your love in the first place. In the final verse comes the realization that the narrator can in fact overcome the betrayal and wishes to fight to save the relationship (oh I wish I were a trinity…so if I lost a part of me..I’d still have 2 of the same to live..but nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal, as specs of dust we’re universal…to let this love survive could be the greatest gift that we could give..). “Tried To Be True” tackles some of the same subject matter but takes a different path. It is an upbeat tune with REM backing the girls. It seems to take a more positive look at the same situation without the darkness of the aforementioned ballad. The second strongest song on this offering is “Land of Canaan” which also appeared on 1987’s Strange Fire and the success of this record would lead to the re-releasing of that album. Ironically the Indigo Girls would lose out to Milli Vanilli for best new artist at the Grammy’s.

Other Indigo Girls on this blog:

#158 Indigo Girls – Strange Fire (1987/1989)



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