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Happiness Amid Melancholy: Songs of Patty Griffin

Singer-songwriter Patty Griffin moved to Austin, Texas, for love. She lost the love, but found a musical home.

Griffin, whose new CD is called Children Running Through, grew up in Maine — the youngest of seven children, all born within seven years. When she was about 12, she realized she liked to sing more than anything, and that she could get lost in music.

"I just started going into my room and literally going into my closet and singing into the clothes" so she wouldn't bother her family, she recalls.

When Griffin composes, she says the music and lyrics come at the same time.

"It's like sculpture and the rock: You have to chip away at it and not think too much and just keep going," she explains.

Griffin's songs are often shot through with a big streak of melancholy — so much so that a friend challenged her to write a "happier song." That challenge resulted in "Burgundy Shoes," a song on her new CD.

Griffin says she went back to a happy memory, and one of the first was waiting for the bus to the "big city" of her youth, Bangor, Maine.

"When you're little, everyone smiles at you because you're cute, so you think the world's great," she says. "Everything's so vivid. You're not clouded out by anxiety and you don't miss things.You see the sun, and you see your mom's lipstick and how beautiful she is."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.