Mary Chapin Carpenter: Residing Within the Questions

Originally published with The Bluegrass Situation on May 4, 2016.

It’s been said with age comes wisdom, but for Mary Chapin Carpenter, it’s more likely to deliver questions. Where wisdom does arise for the now 58-year-old singer/songwriter is in living with them, rather than thinking answers offer any absolute understanding. “I think the questions are far more important than any answers,” she says. “Our job is to pose the questions and provoke each other to think about these things.” Carpenter has long exhibited an inquisitive nature, her music serving as the conduit for explorations both internal and external, but don’t expect her new album, The Things We Are Made Of, to provide shining pearls of knowledge. Instead, she remains content residing in the unknown. “I don’t know if I would describe anything as a lesson,” she says about her new music, “because that conjures up the idea that there was some kind of reckoning, in a way.”

Carpenter’s conversation contains a measured quality as she seeks to connect the shapelessness of thought with the structure of language, so that nothing gets lost in translation. Words, after all, don’t always naturally comprise the meaning that manifests internally. Based on the care and consideration she brings to her everyday speech, it’s easy to draw parallels to her writing process. Carpenter has long been a striking lyricist, her ability to capture phrases earning her five Grammys and 15 total nominations, among many other industry accolades.

[Full article available at The Bluegrass Situation.]

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