Mary Chapin Carpenter
Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N. 4th Street
Thurs, 8/11, 7:30 p.m.
$40-$65 • www.brooklynartsnc.com
Enough can’t be said about music’s ability to soothe, comfort or pump up the soul. Growing up in the South, countless country tunes got me through some pretty good, bad and ugly days—and as a young pre-teen there was never a shortage of them. It seems like nothing ever felt better to ease my lovesick mood than a country song. The best medicine at the time: Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her.”
From her hit 1992 album “Come On Come On,” featuring other popular tracks like “Passionate Kisses,” supposedly Carpenter was inspired by a 1970s series of Geritol commercials in writing the tune. The commercial featured a man bragging about his wife and eventually closed with, “I think I’ll keep her.” The rest is songwriting history.
Offering a snapshot of her life in her latest release, “The Age of Miracles,” the collection of songs seem to reflect a soothing spiritual sound, which the singer says were inspired by nothing less than infinite people, places and things.
“Suffice to say that inspiration has always come from many different sources,” Carpenter shares “One’s life, the life of friends, experiences, something I’ve read, something or someone that I have encountered. It has been this way with every album, and so it continues.”
Her 12th album combines folk, country, acoustic, rock and blues; a true representation of her love for all kinds of music. Thus, it’s not simply country music; in fact, that’s something Carpenter’s combatted throughout her career. She’s managed to show a multitude of talents, all the while collaborating with other popular artists. She never stops contemplating “who’s next” either.
“I don’t have an ‘ultimate’ artist I would like to work with,” she admits. “But like most human beings, the person who most readily comes to mind is Bruce Springsteen.”
Having grown up playing the guitar, influenced by the likes of the Mamas and the Papas, while attending college at Brown University, Carpenter played local bars and clubs in the D.C. area in the early days. She continued evolving on the scene until she graduated in 1981 and eventually met guitarist John Jennings—now a long-time co-producer and collaborator. This led her to a deal with Columbia Records, wherein 13 million albums sold and 20 years worth of fame and recognition marched behind it.
Today, the songstress has been honored with The Americana Music Association’s esteemed “Spirit of Americana Free Speech in Music Award,” which recognizes artists who have used their work to raise awareness and promote free speech. It’s also an honor bestowed on legends like Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins and Joan Baez. Known for her involvement in charities like Habitat for Humanity and the relief agency CARE, Carpenter’s will to voice her feelings without restrictions of creative expectations led her to pursue multiple projects outside of music—such as writing a column for The Washington Times.
“I wrote about whatever I wanted,” she says, “so the subject matter tended toward what was on my mind that week or what was of interest to me in the news. It was always my hope that readers would discover something new, whether it be music or a viewpoint, a way of looking at culture, inspiration, art—you name it. A few times my topics veered into the political, and I had to be reminded by my editor that [it] was the lifestyle section, not the opinion page.”
Mary Chapin Carpenter, the writer, musician and powerful activist, will take over the Brooklyn Arts Center on Thursday, August 11th at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.brooklynartsnc.com for $40 or $65 for the VIP balcony area.