Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Evening with Mary Chapin

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This past summer I was going through the mail and pulling out catalogues to be tossed. I was actually in the car with Hubby and absent mindedly glanced through the one odd size catalogue from Carolina Performing Arts. I'd already decided that this was to go in the recycle bin when I just happened to see Mary Chapin Carpenter was scheduled to perform. What? There is a name I hadn't seen on the music scene in a while.  At least I hadn't seen her name in "my" music scene. I changed my attitude about this publication and immediately shifted into a new gear/task.

New task? Get tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter. It was summer and the concert was set for October. My heart raced because I thought...I'm so early getting the tickets we may get some amazing seats. I'm not sure Hubby realized that I wasn't simply saying in a "By the Way" sort of fashion that Mary Chapin was coming. I think he figured it out as I furiously pulled out my iPhone.  I was able to buy tickets online before we had reached our destination. 

I remember this part of that drive...pulling out my phone...struggling to make my fingers hit the touch pad precisely so that I could get past the "type out this illegible gibberish to prove you not a hacker program".  I almost never get that the first time. I end up having to request a different "word".  I become quite intense when I'm in the middle of an online concert ticket purchase.  There is so much pressure with the little time clock ticking away the seconds before...."Oops...your time has expired. You must start over." I hate this. I know starting over means I have just lost what are sure to be the BEST tickets.  The next round of tickets will surely not be as good. 

Whispered side note:  In truth, often the next round presents the exact same tix. So it's usually not as awful as my adrenaline pumping heart thinks.  Just buying online tickets is enough to indicate that it's a good thing slot machines are not accessible to me.  When the tickets threaten to be disappear I become a little crazed. 

So, as I was Mary Chapin concert tickets! And the concert was last night.

For me, Mary Chapin is the quintessential "Austin City Limits" artist. I've loved her music since the early '90s. The Album "Come On Come On"...still on my play list. And "Stones in the Road" another favorite. (I go back and forth between the two for my favorite.)

I can still hear the whisper quality of "Come On Come On" (which wasn't on the play list last night). And "Passionate Kisses" is another one that just makes me happy. I can't hear it without wanting to go get a smooch from the one I love. I can't forget how great "Down at the Twist and Shout" and "I Feel Lucky" are. They both ROCK.

Of course, the title song for "Stones in the Road" feels heartbreakingly reflective. But the album still rocks with "I Take My Chances" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me". If I allow myself to be immersed in the "Shut Up and Kiss Me" song, there's no way I can't be in a good mood.

So, clearly....I wasn't going to miss seeing Mary Chapin live! Funny, when I mentioned that I was going to this concert to colleagues at work the reactions ranged from: "I don't know her. I don't think I've heard any of her songs" to "Well...good for you..."(and not in a "I wish I were you" kind of way).

Weird. I mean, I know she hasn't been on the scene in a while but she won Grammys for Best Female Vocal Performance each year from '92-'95. As I write this, I think I know why my colleagues didn't really "get" why I was so excited. --I didn't really think about the fact that those Grammys were in the "Country" category. Some people think that's like the "runner up" category.

So, I can't remember all of the songs played last night. And I certainly can't remember what order they were played in. There were several songs I'd not heard before last night. Turns out, Mary Chapin returned to recording releasing a new album every three years since 2001. So, there is quite a bit of catalogue that I missed.

I've tried to put together the play list for you here:

The Way I Feel-The Age of Miracles
On and On It Goes-The Calling
Passionate Kisses- Come On Come On
Houston – The Calling
Down at the Twist and Shout – Come On Come On
Grand Central Station –Between Here and Gone
The Hard Way – Come On Come On
Mrs. Hemingway – The Age of Miracles
I Have a Need for Solitude -The Age of Miracles
I feel Lucky - Come On Come On
He Thinks He’ll Keep Her-- Stones in the Road
I Am a Town – Come On Come On
This Shirt -State of the Heart
Halley Came to Jackson - Shooting Straight in the Dark
I Take My Chances – Stones in the Road
Shut Up and Kiss Me- Stones in the Road
No Fear-by Mary Chapin Carpenter & Terri Clark on Terri Clark’s album, Fearless

I learned, last night, that Mary Chapin had a life threatening pulmonary embolism in 2007. The illness forced her to abandon touring and recording for the year.  I had no idea from Mary Chapin's performance, which was INCREDIBLE.  Her voice is so strong and clear. The notes she hits are still so pure.

Mary Chapin wrote a piece for NPR entitled The Learning Curve of Gratitude, which is a reaction/healing story to the trauma of a life threatening experience. 

I also found a fairly recent interview with Mary Chapin here: Big Think.  Here you can either read the interview or watch the video. --I watched it because I thought it was neat to see Mary Chapin actually react to the questions. Here, she talks about being labeled "country" and her recovery from her illness and her song writing process.  I was glad to see the show last night and discover her new songs as well as enjoy the ones from a decade ago that still resonate powerfully for me.

Hope you'll discover or rediscover Mary Chapin Carpenter too.

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