It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go

Album: Storms (1989)
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Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Nanci Griffith takes a cab ride in Belfast, where the driver comes across a young boy he knows who will have to grow up in the war-torn city. "What chance has that did got?" the driver asks.

    Later in the song, Griffith is waiting in line at a cafeteria when the fat man in front of her makes a racist remark to his children. She then draws parallels to these two events, making the case that racial tension in America is just as toxic as the political strife in Belfast.
  • Griffith, who died in 2021 at 68, was a singer-songwriter who was initially marketed as a country singer, but for her Storms album, her label, MCA, moved her to the pop music division, which seemed a better fit - her songs didn't take the tone of American exceptionalism that was typical of country songs; they often asked difficult questions and were critical of the way Americans treat each other.

    "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go" was released as a single, but didn't chart. Griffith wasn't fazed; she didn't like pursuing hits, which she had to do in the country division, often recording songs by other artists just so she could get on the charts.
  • In the 1994 Hootie & the Blowfish song "Drowning," lead singer Darius Rucker makes reference to Griffith's song, singing:

    Nanci singing it's a hard life wherever you go
    About some fat racist living in Chicago

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