Nanci Griffith

From a Distance

Composed by Julie Gold

Song Review by

Nanci Griffith adopted and adapted this Julie Gold composition, first releasing it on her crossover LP Lone Star State Of Mind (1987). The intimate and respectful nature of the song is perfectly matched to Griffith’s understated and thoughtful delivery style. Her chime-like vocals ring pure, and in the truest sense of the folk tradition, with ultimate conviction. The alternating perspectives and points of view lyrically exemplify Gold’s message of global consciousness, driving home the catch phrase ‘think globally, act locally’. Likewise, this bestows a sincere desire for peace, projecting a positive future where the universal agenda includes “harmony [that] echoes through the land/It’s the hope of hope/It’s the voice of peace/It’s the voice of every man”.

Adult-contemporary diva Bette Midler included “From A Distance” on her Some People’s Lives (1990) disc. Her chart topping version garnered Gold a well-deserved song writing Grammy. She has frequently called Midler “her liberator, for first making this song so famous” adding that Griffith is likewise her “mentor, for first placing a hold on the song [and] valuing it”.

The overwhelming success of the song led other performers to incorporate it into their repertoire. These range from the comparatively staid renderings by Cliff Richard, Michael Ball and Judy Collins to more effective versions from the Byrds and Kathy Mattea. An achingly stirring reading from Griffith can be found on her One Fair Summer Evening (1988) concert release.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lone Star State of Mind 1987 Geffen / MCA Nashville 4:14
One Fair Summer Evening 1988 Geffen / MCA 4:14
The MCA Years: A Retrospective 1993 Universal 4:11
The Best of All Woman 1995
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 4:11
Country Originals: The Original Country Classic Behind The Chart Covers 1995
Various Artists
Connoisseur 4:14
Country Gold 1997 Geffen / Universal Special Products 4:13
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Country Women [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:11
The Best Country Ballads in the World Ever 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:11
Woman [Polygram International] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
The All Time Greatest Country Songs 1999
Various Artists
MSI Music Distribution / Sony Music Distribution 4:13
Drivetime Triple Set 2000
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:11
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Nanci Griffith 2001 MCA Nashville / MCA 4:12
Wings to Fly and a Place to Be: An Introduction 2001 Universal Distribution / MCA 4:13
Philadelphia Folk Festival: 40th Anniversary 2001
Various Artists
Sliced Bread Records 4:50
Country Legends [Columbia River] 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:11
From a Distance: The Very Best of Nanci Griffith 2002 MCA Nashville / MCA 4:12
Summer Country: 41 Classic Country Hits for a Modern World 2002
Various Artists
O Sister, Where Art Thou 2002
Various Artists
Girls Triple Set 2003
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:12
The Complete MCA Studio Recordings 2003 MCA / Universal Music 4:12
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Women of Country 2003
Various Artists
Universal International 4:11
Drivetime [Universal] 2003
Various Artists
Universal Music 4:11
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Universal Music / USM / USM 4:12
The Ultimate Country Collection [Universal International] 2005
Various Artists
Universal International 4:12
One Fair Summer Evening...Plus! [DVD] 2005 MCA Nashville
Music for Mum 2005
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:13
I Love Country 2006
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV
True Drivetime 2006
Various Artists
Spectrum Music / Universal 4:11
To Mum With Love 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:11
Latest & Greatest: Woman 2013
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:10
The  Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Country
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / The Ultimate Music Collection
The Old Grey Whistle Test: Country
Various Artists
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