Century Plant

Album: Loose (1994)
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Songfacts®:

  • The "century plant" is a common name for Agave americana, which grows in Mexico and the southwestern United States and lives for 10 to 30 years. The plant is a "surculose," meaning that it produces adventitious shoots that extend far from the plant and can produce root sprouts.

    In our interview with Victoria Williams, she said that the song's initial inspiration came from the century plant itself, rather than the people or the theme. "I know it may sound strange, but that plant sends out baby plants all around it, and all of them may one day bloom. The initial plant may never bloom or, one day, as did mine, a spectacular tall bloom arises! People, too, may live a hundred years, and in that time so many chances to appreciate life are here."
  • The line, "Clementine Hunter was 54 before she picked up her paintings" refers to a real person. Hunter was an African-American woman who, despite only 10 days of schooling and a lifetime spent picking cotton in the harsh conditions of Melrose Plantation, Louisiana, became a painter late in life.

    According to Williams, "The other characters were based on people who did extraordinary things with their time here on earth. Uncle Taylor really did ride his bicycle across China in his late '70s!"

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