music reviews

The Musings and Music of Mary Chapin Carpenter

April 26, 2010 at 9:30 am , by


I feel so lucky to have grown up with parents who appreciate great music. Some of my earliest music memories are of listening to James Brown in my father’s car, or singing along to James Taylor records. We always knew when my mother was cooking dinner, because she’d pump up the volume on her favorite songs. So, my parents’ music became my music, and I fell in love with artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter.

I was so thrilled (and my Mom was extremely jealous) when I got the chance to talk to Mary Chapin, 52, about her new album, The Age of Miracles (out April 27), and her upcoming summer tour.

What inspired this album?
It was born out of adversity, after I got so sick three years ago [Carpenter suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2007]. A great deal of the songs document some pretty dark times, but also resilience. Ultimately, this record is about resilience.

Where do you write your songs?
I like to be at my desk with my yellow note pad, my Paper Mate Sharpwriter pencil and an eraser. I haven’t varied from that for years.

Mary ChapinI was so struck by your song “I Have A Need For Solitude.”
My husband [Tim Smith] said, Oh my God that’s the most autobiographical song you’ve ever written.

Are you ever worried about feeling vulnerable when a personal song reaches the masses?
In the end, my music is about expressing myself.  It’s about connecting with the world by speaking about who you are. I don’t think I’ve ever come to a place where I think Oh, I’ve said too much, I shouldn’t write that.

I think the more honest you are in your writing the more you connect with people.
Abso-frickin-lutely. I’m astounded when someone tells me their story and how a song has meant something to them. That connection is what we all crave. We all want to be known. We all want to feel that we’re not alone.

This summer, you’re leaving your beautiful farm in Virginia and hitting the road. What’s your favorite part about going on tour?
This tour feels really celebratory because it’s the first one I’ve done since I got sick. Being on stage every night, playing these songs and connecting with the audience. There’s nothing like that. I live for that.