It gets harder and harder, Lorraine, to believe in magic

David McFarlane offers his heartbreaking, yet hopeful reflections on a heartbreaking, yet hopeful song: Patty Griffin’s “Sweet Lorraine.”

“It’s gorgeous and tragic and funny in the way that terrible things said honestly can sound funny,” he writes. And he resonates with how the song “is about being a pariah and losing hope and how sad this world can be.”

Here’s the album version and here’s a live version.

McFarlane highlights the lyrics, so let me say something about how the music embodies them in a way that just slays me.

We meet poor Lorraine: G, C9, D, D(sus4). Bad things happen to her, but she strums on: G, C9, D, D(sus4). Lorraine takes everything the world can throw at her. She has every reason in the world to break down, to give up, to stop.

And then we hear this again: G, C9, D, D(sus4); G, C9, D, D(sus4) …

She just. Keeps. Going. And it’s beautiful.

Speaking of Patty Griffin, here’s a bit of a mystery regarding her never-released album Silver Bell. All of those spammish song-lyric sites including the following lyrics as a bridge in her grinding, bluesy song “Perfect White Girls”:

If you kiss their asses long enough
They might let you kiss their asses
If you kiss their asses long enough
They might let you kiss their asses.

That’s a terrific description of the corporate ladder, or of the 1 percent, or of The Powers That Be, or of pretty much any hierarchy anywhere.

But, alas, those lines aren’t included in the song as it was recorded, or in the one performance of the song I could find on YouTube:

So did Griffin write them? If not, where did they come from?

Somewhere there must be high school seniors who want to use those lines as their yearbook quotes. And it seems like they’re something speakers ought to quote in commencement addresses. But who should we attribute them to? Patty Griffin? Or some online mischief-maker?


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  • quinnthebrain

    Get out of my head! This song’s been rolling around in me for the last week. And here you are writing about it.