It’s funny how a song comes to define an artist. Loudon Wainwright III has spent four decades escaping the shadow of “Dead Skunk.” Thanks to Glee, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is more ubiquitous now than it was upon its 1981 release. And “Stairway to Heaven” was so played out that it became a Mike Myers joke in the first Wayne’s World movie.
That scenario could have dogged Indigo Girls after the immediate and universal attention paid to “Closer to Fine,” the lead track from their 1989 eponymous debut, but luckily the song was durable and its message timeless enough to transcend the gossamer whims of novelty or the crushing weight of classicism.
After a 25-plus year-run, with albums both great and merely good, periods of inactivity for recharging and to make time for solo projects, business ventures and a variety of causes (LGBT and political issues, the environment, among others), Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are still finding ways to make Indigo Girls relevant in the new millennium.
It’s been six years since the duo returned to their independent roots, starting their own IG Recordings label. In that time, they’ve released the half-band/half-solo-acoustic Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, the live Staring Down the Brilliant Dream, the holiday-themed Holly Happy Days and their well-received 13th studio album, 2011’s Beauty Queen Sister.
Through it all, the words from arguably their most famous song still resonate today: “I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains/I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain/There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line/The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.”
Truer words have rarely been sung and fewer still have stood the test of time and repetition; such is the gift of “Closer to Fine” and the amazing talent of Indigo Girls.
INDIGO GIRLS perform Tuesday, March 5 at Madison Theater in Covington with The Shadowboxers. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.