Friday Song: “Closer to Fine”

About incremental progress, this was a breakthrough song for the Indigo Girls

Friday Song: “Closer to Fine”

Recently, I traveled to Colorado to see my first concert at Red Rocks. Having grown up in the area, I’d always meant to go there, but you know how it is with local gems — you figure there’s no rush, so you procrastinate.

Well, it is an amazing venue.

The concert I saw featured Brandi Carlile as the headliner. It was the kind of night you never want to end, made only more stellar by two top-notch opening acts — the Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) and Allison Russell. Both acts joined Carlile again toward the end of the show for a couple of songs.

The Indigo Girls’ breakout hit was 1989’s “Closer to Fine,” a song written by Saliers from her front porch in Vermont. She recounts how she was gazing out at the trees, and realizing how life didn’t lend itself to one solution, one answer, one achievement, but was a messy and unpredictable journey to get “closer to fine.”

The song recounts experiences of the band playing until 3 a.m., while including archetypes (“doctor of philosophy”) and other experiences observed, as well.

“Closer to Fine” made it into a couple of Top 100 charts, and made the Indigo Girls a mainstream act. The song won the 1989 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording.

Memorably, the Indigo Girls were nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy, but lost to Milli Vanilli, who later had their award revoked when it was discovered they didn’t sing on their album.

These two really sing, and sound great — even still, in the cool mountain air just west of Denver.


An here’s how they sounded at Red Rocks (short sample), with Carlile and Russell (and the crowd) joining in: