Indigo Girls: Re-Visiting Their Early Catalog

There are some debuts that introduce a group who is destined to have a lasting impact on MANY people’s lives. From what I’ve read, everyone at Arista knew Whitney Houston was going to be huge from day one (and, of course, they were right). But there are some surprises and the Indigo Girls surely fall in the “unlikely” catagory.

I have to admit that they were only peripherally on my radar during the final days of my high school tenure. I wasn’t properly exposed to them till my London semester abroad in the fall of 1992. But I’ve remained loyal to them ever since.

I’ll explore some of their later releases in a future story (or two), but today I was in the mood for their earliest material.

I revisited their discography. I see now why some things were foggy in my mind. Strange Fire was their official first studio album, but Indigo Girls was their first major label release.

A very popular Medium writer suggests writing stories in 20 minutes or so. (Hahahahahaha!!!) I spend hours. Tonight, I’ve spent close to an hour just deciding which songs I wanted to include. Thank goodness I didn’t throw in the towel after only 20 minutes or I would have failed to re-discover this exquisite gem of a song.

This song is so obscure that it wasn’t coming up quickly during my searches. But it’s my job to do the deep digging to cull the very best musical picks. “Left Me a Fool” seemed vaguely familiar, so I listened to it.

My patience and determination paid off: What a delicate, aching, gorgeous melody and vocal! A long-forgotten beauty. It would be a great regret had I not spent the extra time tonight to be thorough in re-listening to their earliest material. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this one and hope the 3 people who read my music stories will enjoy it, too!

Prince of Darkness” was always a favorite of mine. The intensity, the desperation, the pleading. The bleakness of the lyrics made a deep impression on me.

This live performance from 1989 captures Emily Saliers and Amy Ray’s raw talent and impassioned musicianship.

Land of Canaan” was released as a folk song. And it was re-released as this vibrant, sultry, rockin’ interpretation. They both have value, but it’s not even close: THIS spirited take is my go-to version. It captures the raw energy, doing this song its proper justice. The guitar playing and vocal are about as bombastic as Amy and Emily get.

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I adore London. I saw the Indigo Girls in Camden Town, I believe, during my fall semester abroad. It’s a hazy memory. I think we were in a pub that had a second story with a balcony overlooking the crowd. It was loud, packed, and raucous.

“It’s just the London skyline, sweetheart, telling me you’re not mine”

I had pulled this performance up and got distracted, so I wasn’t paying much attention to it. Suddenly I was jolted by how good it was! I re-focused on it, knowing I had found just the right performance to share.

Uplifting, jaunty, slightly imperfect, stirring, and charming. A worthy live version of their iconic “Closer to Fine.

Timeless in its melody, lyrics, and overall message. To have been written when they were in their early 20s — wow! It remains an astounding musical achievement!

Maybe the Indigo Girls deserved more fame than they have received, but on the other hand, they seem to have done things their way, retained their look, written their own songs, and relied solely on their talent. In any case, I’m grateful to be among their fans!

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