Love at the Five and Dime

Woolworth stores are the same everywhere in the world. They have this wonderful smell to them; they smell like popcorn and chewing gum rubbed around on the bottom of a leather-soled shoe…” — Nanci Griffith

Yesterday I did some grocery shopping, and Sweety came along as she wanted to get a few more annuals to fill some spots in her lovely garden. It’s the first time we’ve gone out shopping together in ages, though we didn’t actually shop together, as you can’t do that in our province right now due to COVID-19 restrictions. (But that will change this weekend, as part of sweeping changes our provincial premier is ramming through as he chomps at the bit to turn on the taps on consumption taxes, otherwise known as “reopening the economy.”) I digress.

While I shopped for food and other provisions, my sweety went to visit the garden centre, outside. Except it had closed. So we went to another; this time, my turn to stay in the car. We ended up getting a few things here and there after stopping at a total of five stores with outdoor garden centres. I sat in the car, listened to music, checked email, read Twitter, drank water… and each time glad my dear one emerged from the store happily bearing some treasure she found in the prematurely picked-over centres.

As we arrived home, “Love at the Five and Dime” was playing on a continued random CarPlay of all my music, as I hadn’t selected a specific playlist. I love this song so much, including the sweet introduction Griffith gives. Each time I hear it, I have tears in my eyes, with gratitude for the lovely music, regret at not having ever seen Griffith when she has performed in concert, and most of all, sharing this beautiful music and life with my sweety.

Today we decided to get out of the city and enjoy the heat and sun at the beach and packed up the car bound for Patricia Beach Provincial Park. As we pulled away, “Love at the Five and Dime” continued. How could I not feature this song today with such serendipity at play?

I’ve previously posted five Nanci Griffith recordings: “Just Another Morning Here,” “From a Distance” (which contains links to my pieces on Griffith songs that predate that post), “Deadwood, South Dakota,” “Late Night Grande Hotel,” and “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” (in that post, I talk about stumbling upon a Woolworths store in London, England, just like Griffith talks about in her introduction to “Love at the Five and Dime”). And you’ll want to listen to the song if even just to hear the whole delightful introduction… the bit at the top of this post is just a teaser.

Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine
And Eddie was a sweet romancer and darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie played the steel guitar and his momma cried ’cause he played in the bars
And he kept young Rita out late at night
So they married up in Abilene, lost a child in Tennessee
But still that love survived

’Cause they’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

One of the boys in Eddie’s band took a shine to Rita’s hand
So Eddie ran off with the bass-man’s wife
Oh, but he was back by June singin’ a different tune
And sporting Miss Rita back by his side
And He’d sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie traveled with the bar-room band till arthritis took his hands
Now he sells insurance on the side
And Rita’s got her house to keep; she writes dime store novels of love so sweet
They dance to the radio late at night
And
still sing

Dance a little closer to me
Dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me
’Cause it’s closing time and love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine
And Eddie was a sweet romancer and darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d sing

(“Love at the Five and Dime,” by Nanci Griffith.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

“Love at the Five and Dime” comes from Griffith’s 1988 live album, One Fair Summer Evening.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the Nanci Griffith YouTube topic channel:

And here’s an unofficial video of Griffith performing the song live in Austin (Texas, I assume but date unknown though likely 1988 or 1989).

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