Certain Songs #804: John Hiatt – “Have a Little Faith in Me”

Album: Bring the Family
Year: 1987

John Hiatt was a hoary veteran by the time he broke into the charts for the first time with Bring The Family, his eighth album.

And part of the reason he broke into the charts was that the advance word was that he’d been able to recruit a crack band featuring Jim Keltner on drums, Ry Cooder on guitar and Nick Lowe on bass to play a tough but sparse set of rootsy songs.

Which it’s why it’s ironic that the best song on the album — the best song Hiatt will ever write — was just Hiatt alone at a piano singing for his very life. Or at least his soul.

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark
And have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try
And have a little faith in me

Slow, stately and cut from the same cloth as “Let it Be,” but based on soul not gospel, “Have a Little Faith in Me” features Hiatt’s piano confidently marching through the chords on the chorus, acting as a support system as he begs, pleads and cajoles for a chance, maybe his first, more likely his last.

After the modulation, he gets more and more desperate, and the cracks in his voice start to show. Which is great, because a more technically adept singer would sound insincere, and “Have a Little Faith in Me” would completely fall apart. Instead, it gets by on the strength on the utter sincerity he projects.

In any event, “Have a Little Faith in Me” has had a slow burn in popular culture. If it was released as a single in 1987, it went nowhere, but it was one of those songs that started showing up in films during the 1990s — none of which I’ve seen, of course — and has slowly become a minor staple.

“Have a Little Faith in Me”

“Have a Little Faith in Me” performed live

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