The concert itself was pretty much one big surprise. The four headliners were the onlyliners. No supporting band. No set list. No intermission. Just some guitars, a few makeshift percussion instruments, and four earthbound voices of ethereal richness singing the best songs that came to mind.
My favorite moments came from unexpected places, like Shawn Colvin's, "I Don't Know Why," a song she said was written for her daughter . . . about 17 years before she was born. The strange thing was, I knew exactly what the song was about the minute I heard that synopsis. I have no excuse for not knowing and loving that song prior to last night, but I'll try to make it up to you by letting you in on the gem.
Buddy Miller's highlight was a cover of a Stephen Bruton song called, "Heart of Hearts." It's so obscure, I couldn't locate it with the lyrics I could remember. Even after discovering a YouTube performance of the song with a band called The Resentments, I found precious little evidence of its existence anywhere else. Heather called it her new theme song, and I just loved it. I hope you enjoy it, too—although as Buddy played it (in honor of his friend, the songwriter Bruton, who died while Miller was recovering from a heart attack earlier this year) I couldn't help thinking that there has been no advancement in the audio industry capable of recreating the sound of a live performance.
I was thrilled to the point of aneurysm when Emmylou Harris mentioned a forthcoming album from Patty (produced by Buddy) dubbed a "lapsed Catholic" gospel album called Downtown Church. This struck me as particularly humorous since just this week I had used Patty Griffin's tribute to her grandmother, "Mary," as part of the soundtrack for a slideshow honoring Heather's grandmother Mary (a devout Catholic, and a delightfully unboring human being). I knew Patty was unlikely to play the song in a concert where she performed only a handful of covers and originals, so I took this small emotional tie-in as sufficient coincidence for the evening.
And then, after the stage was cleared and the artists were beckoned back for an encore, Patty & Friends treated us to a quasi-a capella spiritual hymn followed by one last group performance, a song Patty called their benediction: (yeah, you guessed it) "Mary." There were tears.