Singer Kathy Mattea recorded a four-minute novel titled “Love at the Five and Dime” in 1986, and the song became a hit and a calling card for the country star. She sings it again 35 years later. The songwriter was Nanci Griffith, a Seguin language lover who grew up in Austin. Griffith, with the song, created a rich story that spanned two lifetimes through their connection, disconnection, reconnection and dance for many years. All this living was compressed into four verses and a chorus that possessed the lift capacity of a bird’s wing, as well as its fragility.
Griffith once told a reporter that she was glad Mattea had to sing the song the rest of her life so she didn’t have to. This is the nature of a singer-songwriter: move on to the next song, while listeners obsess over the last one.