Saturday, June 17, 1989

Indigo Girls charted with “Closer to Fine”

First posted 10/20/2020.

Closer to Fine

Indigo Girls

Writer(s): Emily Saliers (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 17, 1989

Peak: 52 US, 48 AC, 48 AR, 26 MR, 53 CN, 57 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.7 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers met in elementary school in the Atlanta, Georgia area. As the duo Indigo Girls, they walked “the musical line between R.E.M. and Tracy Chapman” SG and were signed to Epic Records. Their 1989 self-titled sophomore album, but major-label debut, was a two-million seller which nabbed them a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album and a nomination for Best New Artist.

Blues singer Michelle Malone, who knew the duo “up-close and early on” SG said the album “captured the essence of that thing Amy and Emily have always done so well: vocal harmony weaving through well-written, sincere songs.” SG On one hand, there was Ray’s “husky alto…digging through the rubble of she was” SG while Saliers’ “lighter touch [served] as a counterweight to Ray’s fiery passion.” SG

The album kicked off with “Closer to Fine,” a song featuring a penny whistle, a reference to Rasputin, and the Hothouse Flowers. SG It became “much more than just a folk song: it is joy, hope, and validation set to music.” SG The duo have played it at every concert since its release, eventually making it their show closer. Singer Matt Nathanson calls it a “magical unicorn of a song wrapped up in these campfire chords that anyone can play.” SG

Saliers wrote the song sitting on the front porch of a cabin in Vermont while on vacation with her family. As she said, “whenever you’re in such a bucolic setting, it can make you feel very philosophical.” SF As a recent college graduate, she was wrestling with the impact of academia and, essentially, the purpose of life. In the song’s lyrics she “looked to the children” and “drank from the fountains” in search for answers, only to conclude that “the less I seek my source for some definitive / The closer I am to fine.” It served as “a testament to the spiritual notion that we each have all the truth and wisdom we need right here inside of us.” SG

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