Sunday Morning Coming Down

Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter are on a brutally arduous tour together celebrating their thirty-plus years of friendship. We saw them last night at St. Catherine College’s O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul before an intensely appreciative audience.

My purpose here, as usual, is to bring a song or two with which you may be unfamiliar to your attention for the sheer pleasure of the thing and to alert you to the tour in the event it may be of interest. My musical selection here tends to the balladic and the downbeat; it’s Sunday morning coming down.

St. Paul was only their third stop on the tour. They continue with shows in Madison tonight and in Ann Arbor, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Springfield, Ohio the rest of the week. Note to DC readers: before winding up the tour in mid-December, they settle in for three nights at the Birchmere in Alexandria (November 8-10). If I were in the vicinity, I’d be there all three nights.

The O’Shaughnessy must have close to perfect acoustics. We could hear Chapin’s whispering in “Come On Come On” and “The Things That We Are Made Of” without straining high up in the balcony last night.

I don’t see a review of last night’s show online. This is mine. It was beautiful — two gifted women giving it all they have and more through the magic of harmonic symbiosis.

I am a Shawn fanatic. She is a phenomenally gifted singer/songwriter. Mary Chapin Carpenter has achieved spectacular commercial success. They sound great together. Witness their performance of Lefty Frizzell’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” — the closing number of their five-song encore last night. I’ve heard this song performed by Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, and Merle Haggard. I have to say I never really heard it until the ladies worked out their arrangement. This melts my heart.

I’m posting last night’s setlist at the bottom of this post. Here are a few more songs from last night’s set.

Shawn has just released a 30th anniversary edition of Steady On, her first professionally produced album. She talks about the anniversary recording here. On the new disc she performs the songs with only her own accompaniment on guitar. “Shotgun Down the Avalanche” is one of the standout tracks on the album. This recording comes from the 1989 album.

“That Don’t Worry Me Now” is the last song Shawn wrote for These Four Walls (2006). She wrote the lyrics in her hotel room just before she was due to record it. What a song.

“The Hard Way” is a slice of life lifted from Mary Chapin’s breakout album, Come On Come On. It sounded something like an anthem last night. Here is the original recording.

“The Things That We Are Made Of” is the title track from Chapin’s 2016 disc. I think it reflects the limitations of her writing, which tends to the prosaic, but I like the look back on a life and the simple chorus.

Both ladies are influenced by the Beatles. Shawn has performed the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back” for a long time in a minor key. It is a great John Lennon song. This is the arrangement they used to open their encore last night. Chapin supplied the harmony part, Lennon-McCartney style.

Last night’s setlist:

End of the Innocence (Don Henley)
Catch the Wind (Donovan)
Shotgun Down the Avalanche (Colvin/Leventhal)
This Shirt (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Raise the Dead (Emmylou Harris/Linda Ronstadt)
Come On Come On (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Trouble (Colvin/Leventhal)
Some Day (Steve Earle)
Oldest Living Boy in New York (Paul Simon)
That Don’t Worry Me Now (Colvin/Leventhal)
Our Man, Walter Cronkite (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
I Want It That Way (Carlsson/Martin)
Sunny Came Home (Shawn Colvin)
The Hard Way (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
I’ll Be Back (Lennon/McCartney)
Cry Like An Angel (Colvin/Leventhal)
The Things That We Are Made Of (Mary Chapin Carpeneter)
Passionate Kisses (Lucinda Williams)
That’s the Way Love Goes (Shafer/Frizzell)

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