Love at the Five & Dime- Nanci Griffith: Meaning, Lyrics, Analysis


Eddie was a sweet romancer, and a darn good dancer/
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime…

Mood plays such a strong role in Nanci Griffith’s “Love at the Five & Dime”. It is essentially a love story—and overall, a happy love story—but the mood the music creates is dreary and fatalistic. Griffith delivers the lines the same way, whether Rita and Eddie are young and dancing in the corner store, or suffering through the death of their child, and their eventual breakup and reconciliation. It is peculiar. Emotions don’t run too high or too low in Rita’s world.

Their life is relatively simple and mostly uneventful: they had a few dreams that never materialized, and work was always top of mind. But the one thing that was always there was their love for each other. Griffith’s simple, beautiful vocal delivery elevates the song. Also, the steel guitar works perfectly here—it so rarely does. It sets the scene for a small shop in a small town in the middle of the country in a different time.

Nanci Griffith

Ultimately this is a story about a different generation. The Silent Generation. I have heard older people talk about their life and often they have a similar flat affect as Griffith sings the song. It is a way of keeping the emotions at bay as any feelings that escape would probably be negative or overwhelming. Perhaps it is a product of that time.

The message of young love carrying you through thick and thin is something that all generations can relate to. Even though nowadays this story would take place at a Starbucks rather than the corner five and dime.

Love at the Five and Dime
Nanci

Love at the Five & Dime Lyrics
Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She made the Woolworth counter shine
And Eddie was a sweet romancer, and a darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime

And they’d sing
Dance a little closer to me, dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me, ’cause it’s closing time
And love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie played the steel guitar
And his mama cried ’cause he played in the bars
And kept young Rita out late at night
So they married up in Abilene, lost a child in Tennessee
Still that love survived

‘Cause they’d sing
Dance a little closer to me, dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me, ’cause it’s closing time
And love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

One of the boys in Eddie’s band took a shine to Rita’s hands
So Eddie ran off with the bass man’s wife
Oh, but he was back by June, singin’ a different tune
And sportin’ miss Rita back by his side

And he sang
Dance a little closer to me, dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me, ’cause it’s closing time
And love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

Eddie traveled with the barroom bands
‘Til arthritis took his hands
Now he sells insurance on the side
Rita’s got a house to keep
Dimestore novels and a love so sweet
They dance to the radio late at night
And they sing

Dance a little closer to me, dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me, ’cause it’s closing time
And love’s on sale tonight at this five and dime

‘Cause Rita was sixteen years, with hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She really made the Woolworth counter shine
Eddie was a sweet romancer, and a darn good dancer
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime
And they’d waltz the aisles of the five and dime

written by Nancy Griffith



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