Song 28 - - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter strikes me as a perpetual "B lister." And by that I mean, although she's had a fair amount of success, she's never seemed to quite reach the top in terms of popularity and radio play. And without having ever met her (I mean, why would I have ever had a chance to meet her?), but having seen her perform several times and having read about her, I'm guessing (totally guessing) that she's kind of shy and introverted and not particularly self confident. So I'm guessing (totally guessing) that she wasn't one of the "cool" kids in high school. I could be wrong. 

 

But, still, Mary Chapin Carpenter has had a good bit of success. She has released something like 14 albums, with her first dropping in 1987. Although she was labeled as a country artist, country radio didn't know quite what to make of her back then (or now, for that matter). But in 1992 she released an album called Come On Come On, which included songs such as Passionate Kisses and I Feel Lucky, among others. This album went quadruple platinum and was in the top 100 of the Country charts for almost two years. Since then, she won a slew of awards, including five Grammy Awards and several from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. And she's done all of this while being socially conscious and politically active (she wrote a music and politics column for the Washington Times for a short time) and without playing the part of the stereotypical country singer. 

I have seen Mary Chapin Carpenter several times. I first saw her sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. I loved her then, and I've been a fan ever since. More recently, I saw her a year plus ago at a very nice theater in New Jersey called the Scottish Rite Auditorim. And then I saw her at Non-Comm (hosted by WXPN) last May. She always delivers a professional, thoughtful show. And at Non-Comm, in front of lots of radio folks and such, she was nervous as she played some new songs. Charmingly nervous. 

 

There are lots of Mary Chapin Carpenter songs to choose from, but let's make He Thinks He'll Keep Her the song for this post. Although it was probably the most commercially successful of Mary Chapin's songs, it's not a typical country chart topper. Based on a 1970s series of Geritol commercials, it just goes to show you that song ideas can come from just about anywhere. 

So here it is: Song 28: He Thinks He'll Keep Her by Mary Chapin Carpenter. (Note the backup singers in this performance. Bonus points to anyone who can name them. I'll get you started: Emmylou Harris is on the far left.) 

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