Closer To Fine

Album: The Indigo Girls (1989)
Charted: 52
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  • Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls write separately, and this song was written by Saliers, who told us it is based on real experiences. Said Saliers: "All of my songs, they're a combination of real experiences and what I observe through other people's behavior and experience. I was with my family in Vermont, and we were sitting in this rustic cabin, and I was sitting on a front porch and looking out into the trees, which, you know, whenever you're in such a bucolic setting, it can make you feel very philosophical. So that's how I was feeling. And that song is about not beating yourself up too hard to get your answer from one place. There's no panacea, that in order to be balanced or feel closer to fine it's okay to draw from this or to draw from that, to draw from a bunch of different sources. So it's about being confused but looking for the answers, and in the end knowing that you're going to be fine. No seeking just one definitive answer."
  • Regarding the "Doctor of philosophy" in the lyrics, Saliers explains that it wasn't a real person: "It's sort of a stereotype. I remember in high school one of my teachers had a poster of Rasputin on his door, and his pictures just looked so bizarre to me, and always struck me. I sort of put those images together, and it was sort of a poke at academia and the way it can sometimes be removed from reality. So I was saying I don't think this professor has the right to judge me in terms of real life, when we're caught up in this insular, sort of strange academic world."
  • This was the first hit song for The Indigo Girls, and the album was their major-label debut. They paid their dues playing small venues before they were signed to Epic Records, and this was reflected in the lyrics about a late night/early morning trip to a bar. Says Saliers: "Amy and I used to be a bar band, and we would play 'til 3 a.m. like every night, practically for 13 nights in a row, 3 sets, finishing at 3 a.m., so I had some early experiences at bars at 3 a.m., certainly." (Check out our interview with Emily Saliers. The official Indigo Girls website is
  • This won the 1989 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording. The Indigo Girls were nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy, but lost to Milli Vanilli, who later lost the award when it was discovered they did not sing on their album. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • In the season 3 "Diwali" episode of The Office, Jim and Andy sing this while drunk, much to Karen's annoyance.

    It was also used in these TV shows:

    Transparent ("Oscillate" - 2015)
    Happy Endings ("Pilot" - 2011)
    Cold Case ("Maternal Instincts" - 2004)

    And in these movies:

    The Hollars (2016)
    It Had To Be You (2015)
    Momma's Man (2008)
    Park (2006)
  • This also peaked at #26 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Comments: 5

  • Brian from Boston, MaI liked this song the very first time I heard it. The acoustic guitar strumming on this song is great.
  • Elizabeth from Moreno Valley, Cai love this song. the words are very true and it has a beautiful message. i simply love this song!!!
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaIt took me 20 years to hear this song; it aired in 1989 and I didn't hear it until 2009. It was while I was driving on one of the LA freeways and the radio station was then newly on the air (100.3 "The Sound"). When I heard this the first time I was transfixed. The lyrics made so much sense. I guess a "great song" is one that resonates with you so deeply that you don't mind hearing it again and again. For me, this is a great song.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis song features vocal and instrumental contributions from Irish rock band Hothouse Flowers, who were huge in the UK at the time this song was released in 1989. As a result, the song helped make the Indigo Girls well-known in the UK
  • Murph from Peoria, IlI always took this song as "the progress of life." One of the earlier verses says "Crawling on your shores" possibly indicating early childhood... progresses through to college "four years at the higher mind, got my paper and I was free" points to 4 years in college, and getting the diploma and now real life begins...
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