Written by Nanci Griffith, this tender country ballad follows the romance of Rita, a teenaged clerk at Woolworth, and Eddie, a charming musician who dances with her down the aisles of the five and dime. The pair fall in love, get married, and struggle through infidelities and the loss of a child, only to emerge stronger. The song ends with the now-elderly couple dancing together just like they did in their youth.
While this became a signature song for Griffith, it was also the breakthrough hit for country singer Kathy Mattea, who took it to #3 on the Country chart in 1986. Her version features backing vocals from fellow country artist Don Williams. The following year, Mattea notched her first #1 with another Griffith tune: "Goin' Gone."
Griffith made a habit of visiting various Woolworths out on the road, which led to a memorable moment after playing the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina, sometime in the '80s. She told the Fayetteville Observer the story in 2007. "Having written the song 'Love at the Five and Dime,' I used to visit every Woolworth in the towns I was playing in. The night I played the Carolina, I told the audience to meet me for breakfast at the famous Woolworth counter down the street," she explained, referencing the site of the historic '60s sit-in, where a group of African American students took over the segregated lunch counter. "It was an extraordinary morning and there was a line around the block. The counter is now at the Smithsonian."
The album's cover art features Griffith, holding a biography of Tennessee Williams, standing in front of a Woolworth store with a couple dancing together in the background. The male dancer is Lyle Lovett, who also contributed harmony vocals on the album. Also in the frame in the far left is John T. Davis, who was a music journalist for the Texas newspaper Austin American-Statesman.
This earned Kathy Mattea a Grammy nomination for Best Female Vocal Country Performance in 1987, but she lost to Reba McEntire for "Whoever's In New England." Mattea faced off against Reba again in 1991 and won when "Where've You Been
" took the prize over "You Lie