Thursday, August 01, 2013

Thursday Essay Question

Mary Chapin-Carpenter's "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" is one of the goddamn greatest protest rock songs ever recorded. Discuss.

Also (10 bonus points): This performance, from 1992 -- featuring Patty Lovelace, Kathy Mattea, Suzy Bogguss, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, and the goddess-like Enmylou Harris -- is beyond awesome.

Seriously, this song -- inspired by some Geritol(!) commercials from the '70s -- just kicks ass on every level. Chapin-Carpenter may have cannily sold herself as a country artist to get signed, but as you can hear from the above, she could just as easily been a member of Fleetwood Mac or a distaff Jackson Browne.

I should add that I have long maintained that some smart alt-rocker with the Y chromosome should cover this, and pronto.

CONSUMER NOTE: I hope you're sitting down, kids, but tomorrow marks the triumphant return of -- wait for it -- Weekend Listomania. You're welcome.


Anonymous said...

The tune speaks for itself. It even jangles. Is that John Jennings playing guitar in the live band? Drummer looks and sounds like he's having a hell of good time too.

And "come on, come on", you gotta give Don Schlitz some props too.

The overwhelming estrogenic sorcery onstage is palpable. I'm sure all Mary could say was, "My back-up singers .... I think I'll keep them."

I respect her stuff and have most of the albums from 1987 to 2001. Lost track of her then.

One criticism: I wish she could muster more emotion and bile when performing songs like this. That's a drawback for me. Sometimes one can be too tasteful. There's an Ann Murray demon somewhere inside her that needs to be exorcised.

Nevertheless, her early club shows in my neck of the woods were wonderful. She even did an NRBQ cover. And "Opening Act" was so damned spot on. As with most artists, I liked her shows better when she was on her way up and doing the Roxy, Coach House and similar venues.

Also have to give her credit for covering Lucinda and letting her open for her. But I still like Lucinda's version of Passionate Kisses better.

Vickie Rock

Oh, and speaking of Geritol commercials:

edward said...

Wow, sorry I missed that when it first came out. Would have been a natural cover for The Bangles in the day.

So much of modern country is just bad rock (so much of modern rock is just bad rock) it is always nice to hear the occasional good country rock.

Blue Ash Fan said...

I used to love this woman until she caught Shawn Colvin's Disease, the symptoms of which include an insufferable earnestness. She's local to my area and there was a time when my wife and I refused to miss her. Now we never even consider going. Still, this is a great song. I think she's an underrated singer. Lovely phrasing.

steve simels said...

I should add that there's something overwhelmingly sexy about a woman playing a Rick.

Blue Ash Fan said...

The Ric goes nicely with her shimmering blond hair. Not that I noticed.

But is it sexist to even mention this?

steve simels said...



Elroy said...

Love the song and performance, I did get several of her CDs around this time. The video drives me nuts though - the quick cutting, too many audience shots, and if you hadn't mentioned Emmylou Harris being in it I don't think I would have noticed she was in it! She should at least have been shown singing a couple of times - when they do the quick scans of the backup singers they seem to stop before they show her?

Thanks for posting it though.

Anonymous said...

First thing - delighted to hear about the return of Listomania. The main reason I read the blog was/is Listomania.

As for Mary Chapin Carpenter, haven't heard anything from her in many years so I'll have to take Blue Ash Fan at his word that she caught "Shawn Colvin disease". Sorry to hear that, curious about her prognosis, certainly wish her the best.
That said, I've always liked this song and certainly won't disagree with your assessment of the song. From that same album comes (IMHO) one of the finest pop songs recorded in the last quater century, Passionate Kisses.
My opinion is exactly 180° different from Vickie Rock's. I like Lucinda's version but I think Carpenter flat out kicks ass and takes names with her rendition. On the other hand I agree with Vickie on her live performances. Saw her once and looking back, I think the Ann Murray reference may be right on the money.

steve simels said...

From that same album -- I'm also extremely fond of "Quittin Time."

Blue Ash Fan said...

The pacing at her shows became torturous. Two or three whispered, earnest ballads, then "Passionate Kisses." Whisper three more, then do "He Thinks He'll Keep Her." Lather, rinse, repeat. I'd make so many beer runs it was a wonder I could see.

Then one night in Virginia came the ultimate indignity. Mary invited the aforementioned and execrable Shawn Colvin (Don't think she's execrable? See her live. You'll be throwing your beer at her.) onstage with her to sing background on a song or two. And then, just when you thought Shawn was mercilessly relieving us of her presence, it was actually MARY who left the stage, leaving Shawn to do a 20-minute solo set during what was ostensibly Mary's show. Mary cashed in all her goodwill chits that night, as far as I was concerned.

Shortly thereafter the albums, which had a nice, jangly, -- dare I say rockin'? -- vibe began to take on the listless, introspective feel of the shows. Was a shame, really.

steve simels said...

Actually, "Quittin Time" is from her previous album.

I regret the error.

steve simels said...

I knew Shaw Colvin before she was Shawn Colvin.

This is back in my Village days, when the Floor Models were world famous. :-)

Everybody knew she was gonna be a star -- model good looks and a voice to die for -- but she had lousy taste in cover versions. Painfully lousy.

Remind me to tell you the story of how I turned her on to Richard Thompson....

Blue Ash Fan said...

Wait a minute, Steve. YOU turned Shawn Colvin on to Richard Thompson? So you're to blame?

About 20 years ago, the wife and I were at a Thompson show at the venerable Wolf Trap outside DC. Mary Chapin-Carpenter hadn't yet introduced us to the horrors of Ms. Colvin, so we really had no opinion when we saw that Richard's opening act was none other than Shawn. Ms. Colvin came out on in black from head to toe and put on one of the most irritating, self-indulgent and uninteresting sets we'd ever heard, all the while just being so sickeningly into herself. She should've just put a damn mirror on the mic stand and spent that time singing to her biggest fan. Ugh! It was both irritating and boring.

Then, as luck would have it, she came out as part of Richard's band on b/g vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar. So, what did she do while she shared the stage with a genuine guitar and songwriting genius, not to mention an engaging and hilarious performer, to boot? She continued to prance around, drawing attention to herself and reveling in the wonder that is Shawn. I don't know why Richard didn't just hit her with his Strat.

Had you not turned her on to Thompson, she may not have been interested in a gig with him, and therefore, she wouldn't have been there at Wolf Trap to ruin Richard's set and, frankly, my evening. You owe me, Steve. You owe every Thompson fan who had to suffer through her shenanigans that night.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blue Ash
We're having a dinner party and Ms. Colvin has informed us she will be in attendance. Can we count on your presence as well?

Thank you

P.S. She has let us know she'll be bringing her own mirror

steve simels said...

BAF --

It's a true story, and yes, it's my fault.

Get me drunk some time and I'll tell you the details.

Blue Ash Fan said...

I'll be in NYC next month, Steve. Name the place. Drinks are on me. Hell, I might get myself drunk, too.

steve simels said...

My watering hole is called Malachy's. A convivial old fashioned Irish dive on 72nd between Bway and Columbus.

I'd love to hoist a few with you...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: I'm standing by my preference of Lucinda's "Passionate Kisses" over MCC. I'd like to further add that I don't think it ranks that high in Lucinda's canon, let alone the entirety of pop songs from the last quarter century. But that's just me.

Steve: My alter ego, Fudley Correctol, has re-emerged to inform that "Quittin' Time" was actually done on "State of the Heart," which was two albums prior to"Come On, Come On" and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her."

Quittin' Time is a great tune courtesy ex-Bread Robb Royer and Roger Linn. Lou Ann Barton did it first.

Also, Fudley observes that I misspelled Anne Murray as Ann Murray.

Looks like many of the posts indicate an equivocal feeling toward said artist. I guess it's fair to say she peaked late 1980's early 1990's.

With re: to Shawn Colvin: She never has done anything for me. Never understood what the hype and hoopla regarding her was all about.

Nevertheless, my husband and I got dragged by another couple to see her at the Strand, a dinner theater in Redondo Beach during mid 1994. She was touring behind that stupid covers album. I hated every minute of it. I couldn't even stand the audience and their vibe. About twenty minutes in, I had to get out of there. I went outside to have a smoke.

I was puffing away when Beverly D'Angelo came out to do the same. Man was she a great person. We talked and talked and talked. We got along famously. Shit, I gave her my life story in a nutshell and she told me some really crazy stuff about herself as well.

I had just gotten married a year before to the love of my life and I told her how I'd never been so happy. I told her about my baby. I even showed her a couple of very revealing photos of him that I always keep in my purse. She jokingly told me that I better hang onto him or she might steal him.

I told her that my guy had mentioned to me before that he found her really sexy. Beverly and I conspired to blow his mind. I told her where we were sitting. I asked her to sit on his lap and say "Vickie sent me." Then I wanted her to start making out with him. I mean rrrreally make out. She thought it was a scream and went for the idea completely.

I lit another cigarette when she went inside to freak him out and make his day. She was still making out with him when I finished my smoke. When she saw me coming, she broke with the kisses. She told him I really loved him and that he'd better hang on to me.

I giggled upon my return and felt his crotch to see if Beverly had achieved the desired results. Oh yeah! He thanked me then and he thanked me later.

Not two minutes later Beverly was onstage with Shawn singing backup on the Hank Snow "I've Been Everywhere" cover.

The Strand tickets give you a 20% discount at the Palos Verdes Inn which is right above it. The slogan is "Take the elevator home." We took the lift and salvaged some eternal memories out of a dull Colvin show.

Vickie Rock

Here's the stubs. If you look real close you'll see the outline of Beverly's lower lip at the top of one of the tickets. She was supposed to center her kiss but missed.

Anonymous said...

Correction: The Shawn Colvin show mentioned above was in mid 1995, not mid 1994. Just trying to keep Fudley happy.

Vickie Rock

Anonymous said...

MCC did Gene Vincent's "Right Now" after Marshall Crenshaw did it. There was a story connected with this from a Marshall interview but damned if I can remember it now.

never mind

drkrick said...

Isn't that Patti Loveless, not Lovelace?

Anonymous said...

Yep, Loveless, not Lovelace. Guess Fudley Correctol transmigrated.

Wonder what Steve was thinking about when he made that Freudian slip?:-)

Vickie Rock

Here's a shot of Emmylou and Phil back in the day:

And this: