Clint’s Classic Clips: Nanci Griffith “Love at the Five and Dime” BBC 1994

The BBC’s rich musical archive comes up trumps with this captivating performance from 1994.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I first came across Nanci Griffith, but it was definitely during the 1980s and almost certainly on Andy Kershaw’s Radio 1 show that I was completely devoted to and introduced me to so much brilliant music. Blessed with an angelic voice (Griffith, not Kershaw!) I was transported away by the characters in her songs, the emotions expressed and the beautifully written words. Nanci Griffith was a big piece in the jigsaw that I was gradually piecing together of the incredibly rich and bountiful Texas folk and country scene.

In 1994 BBC2 ran a short-lived series called Words and Music which profiled singer-songwriters playing and talking about their songs. This clip of Nanci Griffith comes from the last programme of the series, broadcast on April 4th and subtitled American Stories (pt. 2). It was a particularly good way to end the series with not only Nanci Griffith, but also great performances from fellow guests Jackson Browne and Aimee Mann.

The story of how ‘Love at the Five and Dime’ came to be written is featured at the start of the clip. The song subsequently appeared on her 1986 album ‘The Last of The True Believers’ and in the same year a cover version by Kathy Mattea became a hit reaching number 3 on the Billboard Country Music Chart in America. However, Mattea’s somewhat sanitised version didn’t do justice to the quality of the song. Here, some eight years after its release Griffith’s warm, solo acoustic performance much more captures the raw emotions experienced during the ups and downs a lifelong relationship.

About Clint West 319 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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Stephen Goldsmith

I believe Lyle Lovett (another great Texan songwriter) sang harmony on the song and is definitely on the cover of the album. Probably Nanci’s finest hour.

John Jenkins

Love the Nanci Griffiths song and this Video – i wrote a song that includes a “Woolworth’s ” store as well and its on my new album – The song is called “Cracks” and inspired by the mention in this one –


Nanci is a true legend. One of my favourite concert performers.

Jonathan Smith

Nanci is a huge influence on me, and also on my songwriting partner Stacey McNeill. This is just a superb song, with an incredibly eloquent guitar part, too. Thanks for your piece, and for sharing this lovely video. So many great songwriters emerged at that time, but there is something special about Nanci.

Mairi Ann Cullen

So beautiful. Not seen that clip before. There’s also a great YouTube video out there of her singing this on Austin City Limits.