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This song is about a woman who "Makes a few repairs" to the oven, then uses the gases to burn her house down by lighting a match. She does this in an attempt to escape her past.
Colvin was inspired by a painting, which she used on the cover of the album. The artist was a friend of Colvin's, Julie Speed. See the painting in Song Images
Before A Few Small Repairs, Colvin had never written songs about characters - they were always in the first person. She said the record was fun to make in part because she was "feeling comfortable enough to write a story instead of all the songs being so personal."
Colvin was born January 10, 1956 in South Dakota. She taught herself guitar by age 10 and got her break singing backup for Suzanne Vega. (thanks, Crystal - Springfield, MO, for all above)
Colvin's songwriting partner on this and many of her other songs was John Leventhal - he writes the music and she writes the lyrics. Leventhal is married to Colvin's good friend Rosanne Cash. (thanks, John - Stony Point, NY)
This won Grammys for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. When she won for Song Of The Year, rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard rushed the stage and took the microphone. Apparently upset that his group, Wu-Tang Clan, lost Best Rap Album to Puff Daddy, he rambled about how "Wu Tang is for the children" before he was ushered offstage and a very confused Colvin was allowed to give her speech.
It was Colvin's producer John Leventhal who came up with the iconic mandolin riff that starts out the song. She explained to American Songwriter magazine: "We're longtime writing partners and our co-writing almost always works the same way, which is he has some music already written and I create melody and lyrics to it. Every now and then I'll get a set of lyrics without music or I'll write a bridge or something in a piece of music he's already got but generally he gives me music, I finish it out. That's what happened with 'Sunny Came Home,' he had a whole piece of music and no words and no melody and I came up with that."
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