On the road again

Two weeks from today Mary Chapin Carpenter kicks off an 8-day tour with her pal, Shawn Colvin in Norwalk, Connecticut. So I thought it appropriate to start diggin’ out the concert t-shirts in my collection.

No Mary Chapin Carpenter memorabilia collection is complete without a few concert t-shirts here and there. I’ve collected 30 shirts or so, a few hats, a coupla key chains and several posters over the years. The shirt pictured above is not the first one that I acquired but starts off with the theme of this blog as it’s from her tour in support of Come On Come On. Oh, and not all the items were purchased at her concerts. Many were from eBay and I always enjoy perusing eBay to discover shirts that I’ve never seen before.

Previously Shawn and Mary Chapin have played together numerous times through the years though with Shawn as the opening act and MCC with her full band. I saw them perform in Philadephia at the Mann Center, I believe in 1999. And in 2003, both were joined by Patty Griffin and Dar Williams in the fashion of a guitar-pull where they each took turns singing one of their songs while the others sang harmony. I believe I saw them twice on that tour.

The upcoming tour is just the two of them with their guitars and I can’t wait to experience  the magic of their singing together songs like, One Cool Remove, That’s The Way Love Goes and perhaps a current pop song or two since in 2003 they did sing the Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way. It wouldn’t matter to me if they sang the phone book, the two of them on the stage together is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

Oh, on the back of the shirt is a line from the title track,

You just have to whisper

Hey, maybe they’ll sing that one too. I can only hope.

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck

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Walkin’ away a winner

This year’s Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs) were held on April 1st in Las Vegas but before all the hype and glitz of Vegas, they were held in California. And this is where Mary Chapin Carpenter was a big winner in 1993 taking home the trophy for Top Female Vocalist. She previously won in 1989 for Top New Female Vocalist.

The above photo has the following caption:

Universal City, CA, May 12- Mary Chapin Carpenter speaks onstage and holds the award she won as Top Female Vocalist at the 28th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards presentation at Universal City, Tuesday evening. Credit: AP by Reed Saxon

She’s been nominated a total of 15 times from 1989 through 1994. Use the ACM’s searchable database link below to find out what categories they were.

http://www.acmcountry.com/winners_search.html

Interesting enough when I first searched their database, her name didn’t come up and I was confused since I knew she had won according to the photo. The Academy of Country Music has her listed as Mary – Chapin Carpenter as in Mary hyphen Chapin Carpenter. A confusion even 20 years later as I’ve seen her name still confused by those that don’t comprehend that her last name is Carpenter and her first name is Mary Chapin as in Mary Ann or Mary Beth though she prefers being addressed as Chapin.

Watch her acceptance speech below. And enjoy.

Mary Chapin Carpenter wins Top Female Vocalist

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck

Like a moth to a flame

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since my last post. I intended to blog the night of the ACM’s since Mary Chapin Carpenter has won 2 of them during her career and I wanted to remininsce about it. But I never got around to it. I intended to blog when she announced her upcoming release of “Ashes and Roses” that’s due out on June 12th and it happens to be her 12th studio album. And I never got around to that either. But as they say, 3 times the charm, so here goes.

The item that I put in this post is a press kit for Come On Come On which was released by the record company. This item probably cost me about $10.00 which was a lot of money in 1992. It contains an 8 x 10 photo with a matte finish and a 3-page biography.  It came in a red folder that is labeled Columbia Nashville.

A sweet childhood memory appears on page 1.

 Mary-Chapin had picked up a guitar which had been purchased and discarded by her mother during what Carpenter laughingly refers to as “the Great Folk Music Scare” of the early ’60s. ” I remember being in the second grade and playing ‘Celito Lindo’ in the school play,” she laughs.

Page 3 lists most of the songs that are on the CD, except 3 of them including the track I believe to be the least well known from this album, Walking Through Fire. Its lyrics though stand right up next to The Hard Way or any other song on the album.

Spite is like a spark, crackling in the dark, consuming all it catches, and you got me walking through fire

The song has the usual references to fire such as flames, burning and a spark as quoted above but in MCC’s craftful way, she commands the words of the song to create vivid imagery for the listener instead of a cliché.

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck

You come and go baby

Apparently (or to me at least) it’s difficult to write a daily blog. Not because I don’t have enough material to write about because I do but it’s about that thing called life. I was sick earlier this week. I had to work. I had a meeting one night. And then last night I attended a Dancing With the Stars benefit for our local educational foundation. So, after a break of a few days, here I am back in the swing of it. Or so I say.

The item that I posted is a promotional stand-up for a record store. I believe I got it from someone selling memorabilia in Tennessee. I have another stand-up kickin’ around but it’s black instead of white and that’s what made this one a nice addition to my collection. Because Come On Come On’s primary color was black.

Since I hadn’t been on my computer much at home, I forgot that I had put COCO in the CD drive. In case you were wondering, yes, I do have MCC’s songs on my hard drive but for some reason not this one. Call me old school if you’d like. As I started listening to it earlier this afternoon, the thought occurred to me that this album is still relevant 20 years later. For example, when she sings, “Everything we got, we got the hard way,” I imagine that the listener knows exactly what she means as they got something that they’ve wanted the hard way.

Then came He Thinks He’ll Keep Her. I listened to that on auto-pilot, something that happens I suppose after listening to the same songs on an album for 20 years, 240 months, 1040 weeks. You get my point. Then came the third track: Rhythm of the Blues.

I got “stuck” on it. ROTB was never released as a single but she’s performed it during at least 2 tours that I remember. I remember the first time that I heard this song. Before she even began singing, the melody reminded me immediately of Rosanne Cash. (Rosanne Cash is one of the 3 singer-songwriters that I adore.  Mary Chapin Carpenter is as you know the first, and Shawn Colvin is number 2.) Though it sounds somber, I find it uplifting and encouraging especially when she sings:

I want a place to call my own

where you have never been

This is a person who is ready to move on in life and stand on their own two feet. With Rhythm of the Blues, Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote a song that sounded as good as if Rosanne Cash herself penned it. Then again, maybe better.

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck

Is it live or is it Memorex?

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Besides collecting numerous pieces of Mary Chapin Carpenter memorabilia and since first and foremost, it’s all about the music, I’m grateful to have seen her several times over the years. The first concert of hers that I ever attended was in May of 1992 in Springfield, Massachusetts. I will never forget it for several reasons which I’ll relate later.

In reality I have seen Mary Chapin Carpenter more than just several times but many times over and amazingly fewer times than other fans. I haven’t counted all my ticket stubs lately but I can say for a certainty that I have seen her at least 50 times. I saw her 3 times alone just last year – first in Charlotte, North Carolina, then Atlanta, Georgia and finally in Fall River, Massachusetts.

When I first began seeing her in concert, it was definitely about the concert itself but as the years go on and as I meet fellow fans, getting to the concert itself and making friends with fans from all over the U.S. has been the real fun. It’s ironic that today’s post is about going to her concerts when I did in fact miss her in concert this weekend and she was pretty close to home for me.

Mary Chapin Carpenter performed in Baltimore, Maryland at the first ever WOW -Women of the World – Festival. It was a one-of-a-kind performance for her and I’m sorry that I missed it. But I am grateful for the many other times that I have seen her in concert over the years and I know that I will see her this year during the summer.

I mentioned that the first time I saw her in concert was very memorable to me. The first being that it was at an outdoor music festival AND it was raining throughout the day. I suppose that it was better than getting a sunburn. And the second memory was that it was a country music festival where normally the artists will meet with fans and sign autographs. But not Mary Chapin Carpenter. She finished her set, hopped on the bus, and the bus zipped right on out of there. It would be nearly 6 years later when I finally got her autograph. The most memorable part about her concert that day though? I was behind 2 tall, bearded guys that seemed to enjoy a gallon of orange juice between them. So much so that they were swaying to the music even when the music wasn’t playing anymore.

The next time I saw MCC in concert, I was inside, nice and dry with no one standing up in front of me. Though, I love to tell the story of my first time seeing her in concert. I don’t really remember what she sang but I was so happy to be there. And everyone should always be that lucky.

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck 

 

I take my chances

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The final single, from Come On Come On, was I Take My Chances, co-written by Mary Chapin Carpenter and Don Schlitz. It was released in mid-1994 nearly 2 years after COCO first came out. It did as well as He Thinks He’ll Keep Her as it reached number 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles Chart and it did that well without a video to accompany it to boot.

I think the song did so well because it was a commentary on, well, taking chances. Not the kind of chance like, “I’ll just take the chance that I might get wet because I don’t want to bring my umbrella even though it’s supposed to rain” chance. But the kind of chance that makes our heart beat faster because we’re trying something that is out of our comfort zone.

For someone like me that sometimes has a difficult time with that, it helps me feel brave enough to try something that I might not ordinarily do.  For those people that already have the courage to take their chances (and sometimes in spades, pun intended), the lyrics just cemented what they already know and do almost naturally.

See if you agree:

I take my chances every chance I get

I take my chances

I don’t cling to remorse or regret

Over & Out,

Lisa Luck

Ev’ry thing runs right on time

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,

Lisa Luck

Sometimes you’re the windshield…

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,

Lisa Luck

 

Everything we got

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,

Lisa Luck

Passionate kisses…from you

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,

Lisa Luck