The 6th! single from COCO, He Thinks He’ll Keep Her, became her highest charting song from the album, reaching number 2 on the Billboard charts. And. And, it was released nearly a year after Passionate Kisses.
My niece, the one who’s 22, remarked this past summer to me that this song is “the perfect song.” I never asked her what she meant by perfect but I think I know why. After 20 years later, the song is still one that gets people – okay, the female people -standing to dance when she sings it at her concerts. As American Bandstanders would say: It has a beat and you can dance to it.
But it’s not just the music that makes it the perfect song, it’s the lyrics. I mean, that’s the point of listening to MCC music – the lyrics. The words. The words then tell a story that we relate to in some way. Mary Chapin Carpenter has a way, a gift, to put her feelings into words. And with the words of HTHKH, it becomes a song that empowers the listener, usually female, perhaps a male to take that leap to do that one thing that is holding them back from living the life that they really want.
I would be misleading my reader if I did not tell you that the song was co-written by…a man. Not just any man but Don Schlitz, who wrote or co-wrote The Gambler, (You got to know when to hold ’em), Forever and Ever, Amen and When You Say Nothing at All. Don Schlitz who just last week was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
Really, a perfect co-writer for a “perfect song.”
Over & Out,
The next single from COCO was The Bug. It had no video to accompany the release and it was the 5th single, something usually unheard of in Country music. But this album just kept the hits comin’.
Oftentimes, I’ve read the line,
Sometimes you’re the windshield, Sometimes, you’re the bug
quoted in other blogs or articles on the internet and attributed to Mary Chapin Carpenter. However, this song was actually written by Mark Knopler of Dire Straits fame. It was the only other track, besides Passionate Kisses, not written or co-written by MCC that was included on the album. It was also co-produced by Steve Buckingham along with MCC and John Jennings (MCC’s long-time, practically forever, collaborator.)
The flip side of this single was Rhythm of the Blues, one of the few non-singles of the album and one of my favorite songs to hear performed live.
A memory that I have of listening to this song over the years happened about 3 years into listening to this album seemingly non-stop. After several years of *not* having a home stereo system in place, ya know for listening to music at unearthly decibels, I decided to set one up again. I mean as I was approaching my 30s and perhaps outgrowing listening to loud music, I found that Mary Chapin Carpenter songs made me want to listen to my music loud again.
So one day, while listening to COCO, I had it blasted up and I seemed to crank it up a little bit more after each track. I wanted to hear every nuance in her music and her voice. So, The Bug came over the speakers and towards the end I heard something that I had never heard the approximately 122 times before of hearing that song.
She says, “Splat.” At 3:12 to be exact. (I just looked it up.) At first I thought that I misheard it but I played it again and yep there it was again. Splat. I enjoyed that subtle sense of humor as I discovered a hidden gem that day in more ways than one. And I’ve never turned the music back down since.
Over & Out,
The 4th single, The Hard Way, was released in 1993, nearly a year after COCO had been out. It was the lead track to COCO and it was short of a top 10 hit by 1 slot. Pictured is my vinyl 45 rpm record with Goodbye Again from State of The Heart on the flip side. This item is for collecting only since I’ve never listened to it on a record player.
Several things made me want to listen to it over and over again – the catchy tune, the Indigo Girls singing back-up vocals, but most of all the lyrics. In the chorus she sings:
Everything we got, we got the hard way.
I believe that most everyone can relate to that line because anything that we’ve ever worked hard for is something that we really wanted in our lives. I went to college as a non-traditional student at the ‘old age’ of 33. Boy, in retrospect, that sounds so young. I got my Bachelor’s degree at 39 and I worked hard, academically, emotionally and physically, to achieve my goal. Just before my last semester began, I was hospitalized for 4 days from passing out episodes and vertigo. I thought that I wasn’t going to finish the semester much less even start it. But I made it through and on graduation day, those words were never more true for me because I reached my goal of receiving my degree before I turned 40.
One of MCC’s most outstanding lines ever is found in THW. She wisely informs us in one of the verses :
We’ve got two lives, one we’re given and the other one we make.
When I first heard that line, I was surprised to realize that I actually had choices in how my life would unfold each day. I didn’t just have to accept things or ‘let’ life happen but I must choose to be active in my life to have a fulfilling life. And I have Mary Chapin Carpenter’s inspiring words to thank for that life lesson.
In 2002, The Hard Way took on another meaning for me. When my partner and I got married, our whole wedding party walked down the aisle to this most empowering song.
That’s just my story of what The Hard Way means to me. I have no doubt that anyone who listens to that song can’t help but feel inspired by it. Give it a listen.
Over & Out,
As I wrote in my previous post, Passionate Kisses was the 3rd single released from COCO. It was an edited version that lopped off the piano solo that’s on the album version of the song. PK became a top 10 hit on the Billboard Country Singles chart in the spring of 1993.
The CD single, pictured above, is a promotional copy/not for sale single that was released to radio stations. This was a particularly cool find for me because of the lipstick kisses on both the CD and the back insert.
PK also had a music video to accompany it which you can see here: http://youtu.be/A7l8lz4Urn4
The black & white video was shot in and around Washington, D.C., MCC’s home at the time. You can see the Jefferson Memorial, The Capitol building, and a quick frame or two of King Street Blues, a BBQ restaurant in Old Town Alexandria which at one time displayed an autographed photo of MCC raving about their garlic mashed potatoes.
It had been well over 6 months from her last video. And in country music land, then, now and probably forever, the video was/is so important to the success of a song. I was on the edge of my seat, the coffee table really, waiting for the video to begin. When she finally came on the screen, her hair was much longer than it had been in the I Feel Lucky video. I had been to the hairdressers that day and upon seeing her long hair, I regretted that I had mine cut so short.
In one interview, Mary Chapin, who had been on tour with Lucinda Williams, revealed that singing the song live made her feel strong and so she kept telling Lucinda that, until Lucinda was so tired of hearing it, she ended up giving MCC her blessing to record the song for herself.
What a great gift this song is to us. Thanks Lucinda!
Over & Out,
The second single off of Come On Come On was NOT Passionate Kisses. It was Not Too Much to Ask sung with honky-tonk singer, Joe Diffie. That song was okay. I mean I like Joe Diffie’s voice and enjoyed his songs but NTMTA was a bit too sappy to me. These kind of releases are necessary in the music business though. Joe and Mary Chapin were label mates at Columbia and it’s like a requirement that artists sing a duet together.
So what about Passionate Kisses? This song was the 3rd single, a upbeat song written by Lucinda Williams. It was released as a cassette single – a cassette with one song on each side. That’s it. In retrospect, cassette singles seem like such a waste and they were, except of course where MCC is concerned. Side 1 contains Passionate Kisses (Edited Version) and Side 2 contains Middle Ground, a song found on her release, Shooting Straight in The Dark, which immediately preceded COCO.
On the back of the sleeve, the copyright dates are 1992 (for PK) and 1990 (for MG). I picked up the cassette, look at the dates and I think, I’m holding music in my hand that is 22 years old. And why does that strike me in such a fashion today? My niece Emily turned 22 today and she literally grew up listening to this album with me. This album is no doubt embedded in her subconscious – thanks to me in part for that since I had her with me so much before she started school and COCO was always playing when she was around.
As I finish this post, I wonder, Do I have a 45 rpm of Not Too Much to Ask? Perhaps. But I’ll have to uncover that one at a later time if I do have it. The next post will be about PK too because as they say on late night television commercials – but wait…there’s more…
Over & Out,
The first single released off of Come On Come On was I Feel Lucky, a song written by Carpenter and Don Schiltz, who wrote the country classic, The Gambler. The pictured single is a promotional single which means it was released to radio stations but not to the general public.
The inside cover contains the lyrics which are still as comical to me as they were in 1992. I still remember the day I was just waking up in the morning to this song playing on the radio. I always seemed to miss hearing the whole song. But that particular morning, I really ‘heard’ the whole song and it just made me chuckle. The part about sittin’ at the bar buying drinks and cars with her 11 million dollar windfall and then both Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam making moves on her was just a great scenario to be in.
Regarding the choice of using Dwight and Lyle in the song, Don Schlitz, in a radio interview, remarked that Mary-Chapin was very conscientious and wouldn’t include anyone that was in a steady relationship at the time the song was written. I suppose she has never been one to kiss and tell either.
Besides the lyrics included with the CD, the musicians and background vocalists are listed too as follows:
drums: Andy Newmark, piano: Matt Rollings, mandolin: Tim O’Brien, goddess: Camilla Carpenter, bass: Bob Glaub, electric guitar: John Jorgenson, acoustic guitar: John Jennings, background vocalists: Aleta Green, Jon Carroll, John Jennings, Camilla Carpenter
Another single tomorrow. Anyone want to guess?
Over & Out,
When Come On Come On was released in 1992, CDs were beginning to flood the music stores as the next best thing in the music world. Vinyl records were still available but they were going the way of the dinosaur as we all wanted a more compact way to listen to music, hence the compact disk. They were smaller, easier to transport and virtually indestructible – meaning they wouldn’t skip like a record.
Funny thing though, I played this CD so much that I eventually had to buy a second copy because several tracks ended up sk-sk-sk-skipping. So much for progress.
I was glad that the CD came in the long cover that it did. As a lover and collector of recorded music, I embraced the new format but I still missed the nice big size of a 12 x 12 inch album cover in my hands.
I read earlier today that Adele made Billboard chart history with two titles each in the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 top five. The reason why I mention this is because her music sales are mostly based on digital downloads, unheard of in 1992. Adele’s feat made me wonder how much of an impact COCO would have had on the music world if it were released in 2012.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting CD singles that were released from this album, the first which was I Feel Lucky.
Over & Out,
This is the MCC item that started my collection: the cassette of Come On Come On (COCO). The cover photo is worn on the left side because I took it out of the case so many times to read and reread the lyrics. I just reread them before I posted tonight and they are still as memorable as the first time that I listened to the cassette as they were for the 150th time.
The cover contains a hyphen between Mary and Chapin, something that the record company inserted to let the public know that her first name is Mary Chapin and her last name is Carpenter. However, it still confused listeners who called her Mary. And many fans still do, even today, which makes long-time fans (such as myself) who know that her whole first name is Mary Chapin, cringe to hear it. All we can do is just correct them, one fan at a time if we have to and we do.
The physical quality of the tape (not the sound quality) was often different in 1992 than cassettes released even 5 years later. The tape is a heavier plastic and not clear and has paper labels with the song titles.
Side 1 contains: The Hard Way, He Thinks He’ll Keep Her, Rhythm of The Blues, I Feel Lucky, The Bug, Not Too Much to Ask (Duet with Joe Diffie) Also, the message: One Side Longer to Preserve Continuity – a quirk of cassette tapes that I do not miss.
Side 2 contains: Passionate Kisses, Only a Dream, I Am a Town, Walking Through Fire, I Take My Chances, Come On Come On. And again the message: One Side Longer to Preserve Continuity.
The album reached platinum status of at least 1 million sold. I forget off the top of my head how many it sold exactly but I know I’ll come across that statistic as I go through my collection.
There were 7 singles released from COCO. The lead-off single was I Feel Lucky which reached #4 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart.
The next post will contain the CD and more info about COCO.
Over & Out,
I started this blog nearly a year ago with a clear purpose in mind but I never got the ball rolling for one reason or another. Let me explain: I am a big Mary Chapin Carpenter fan, who’s followed her career for over 20 years. In the process of doing that, I have collected a rather large amount of memorabilia from the more common concert t-shirts to rare promotional items to an autographed life-sized Austin Powers stand-up to a temporary tattoo!
I have so much stuff that I thought that if I started a blog and began to digitally catalog the items, I would finally get organized. I mean, I have so much stuff that sometimes I forget what I have. An unexpected move earlier this month from a house to an apartment precipitated downsizing my belongings but never my MCC memorabilia. And so the Universe presented me with the opportunity to finally get blogging about my collection.
Why is today the day I finally got around to actually publishing my first post? Well, 2 reasons. Number 1: It’s her birthday, February 21st, 1958. (The photo is her birth announcement in The Princeton Packet, dated February 27, 1958.) And number 2: In 13 weeks, it will be the 20th anniversary of the release of her enormously successful recording, Come On Come On.
My intent is to post a photo a day of my collection. And since Come On Come On (COCO), is approaching a milestone, I will post as many pieces of my collection that pertain to that album as a countdown to its anniversary.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blog as much as I’ll enjoy writing it.
Over & Out,