the backstory: Patty Griffin on her faith & Downtown Church

Patty Griffin

Patty Griffin hits NYC for two nights next week (June 8 & 9) at historic Town Hall, where she’ll play with Buddy Miller, the producer of her latest album, Downtown Church, and an incredible musician himself.

Downtown Church is Patty’s first gospel album and she admits that she didn’t really know much about gospel music, other than the fact she was heavily influenced by The Staple Singers. As the Charlotte Observer reports,

“Although Griffin was familiar with gospel’s big names, she relied on Miller to guide her. ‘I was dependent on him to get me into it and to go a little deeper. I still ended up singing some of the more famous songs honestly not knowing they were famous,’ she says.”

Downtown Church is Patty’s seventh album since her 1996 hit Living With Ghosts. She has the kind of sound that would make you think she was doing gospel all along, but that’s not the case. She told The New York Times a bit about her faith and how she cluelessly tried to change the lyrics to “All Creatures of Our God and King,”

“I grew up Catholic, so I have these defenses about listening to anything with too much religiosity; some of the lyrics didn’t sit well in my mouth. One of my beefs is the patriarchal setup. Having the he, he, he, God, God, God, king, king, king stuff was hard for me.”

She referred to the final song on the album, a bare-bones version of “All Creatures of Our God and King,” which is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Mr. Miller was “a little frustrated with me when I tried to rewrite it,” she said with a laugh. “I’m really glad he didn’t let me do that.”

Buddy Miller is the man. Patty is one of my very favorites, but that would have been horrific. Check out this video on the making of the album at Nashville’s historic Downtown Presbyterian Church.

The Charlotte Observer on Downtown Church

The New York Times on Downtown Church

Downtown Church on Amazon MP3 – $7.99