Wednesday, January 22, 2014


What if we went to Italy: Mary Chapin Carpenter
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Have to confess the idea of a road trip to europe seems somewhat less exotic an affair over this side of the pond, not least as, I guess, I'm already there. Or is it here? Whatever, avoiding the temptation to go all "one europe" on you, I will bow to the expectation that we talk of continental europe, Le Grand Tour if you will, the cultural fleshpots, predominantly, of France, Italy, Spain. Germany too, I guess, Greece, Portugal. I'm uncertain whether Romania, Luxembourg and the others will get much action, but all this uses up my word count, and I note Turkey has had a shout below.

So what were my options? I seem to have covered many of the artists I could have called upon, so Spain and France were already taken, which is a shame, as they are my two favourite mainland destinations. I've only actually been to Italy perhaps twice, taking in whistlestops of Rome, Venice and Florence, each of which have made me want to spend more time exploring, much more time. I also have very little italian, but I can shrug emphatically, which is often sufficient. And I have seen a lot of Robert de Niro films, so I reckon I'm halfway to fluent.

And it's the food, of course, pasta, pizza, risotto. Who can possibly eat better than the italians? (Well, apart from the french......)

So to the song, whose lyrics seem to expand on a similar ambivalence, accepting that a little love and knowledge is near sufficient to blend in unobtrusively:

                                         "I still can't speak any Italian
                                  But words are replaced under Siennese skies
                                  By nothing so much as a nod, and a sigh, and a wish to be                                           always like this"

 I have always felt that Mary Chapin Carpenter has one of those voices, smooth and warming, with an undertone of honey and molasses. I reckon she could sing the phone book with a conviction that could entrance. This is, it's true, one of her slighter efforts, but take in the tones, listen to the lilt and explore into her still expanding catalogue. I recall a TV show with she, Rosanne Cash and Nanci Griffith playing in turn, the other two being then much better known, but eclipsed by this new kid on the stool. Since then she has ploughed a solid furrow in that hinterland of country and folk, with songs often seemingly tinged with personal regret: the press suggests a life that has had it's share of upset and upheaval.

Does this song make you want to cross the ocean? I don't know, but I would.

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