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A ‘Miracle’ tour: After health scare and recovery, Mary Chapin Carpenter is back on the road

Submitted by Staff on June 23, 2010 – 12:29 pmView Comments

By Alan Sculley
Correspondent

Three years ago, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s life was thrown into question when she suffered a pulmonary embolism.

Today, she is reticent to discuss the health crisis and what she went through to recover from the difficult experience.

“I’d rather just talk about what I’m doing now,” Carpenter said in a recent phone interview.

There’s plenty to talk about. Carpenter recently released a new CD, “The Age of Miracles,” and is on a lengthy summer tour that will bring her to Boston on Sunday.

It’s a welcome return for the 52-year-old American folk and country music artist whose career began in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s. Plus, she pretty much said what she wanted to say about her embolism and recovery in a column she wrote for NPR radio.

“I tried to express the surprise, I guess, that I felt after getting out of the hospital and sort of realizing the seriousness of everything,” Carpenter said.

“I fell into a real funk. And I think that was probably normal, or natural.

Looking back on it now, I can see how that all happened. You know, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.”

In the NPR article, “The Learning Curve of Gratitude,” she talks about being home a week after finishing a run of tour dates in 2007 and having serious chest pain and breathlessness that made her hurry to an emergency room. At the hospital, doctors discovered blood clots in her lungs, and Carpenter received the treatment that saved her life.

Most of the article, though, deals with the emotional aftermath of the embolism. She describes a period of time in which she was filled with “anxiety, fear and self-loathing – all of the ingredients of the darkness that is depression.”

She recalls how a simple “have a nice day” from a grocery clerk helped get her outlook back on track. It helped her recognize what a gift each day is, and why she should be grateful for all of life’s pleasures.

And that revelation helped Carpenter regain her balance and the motivation to write the music fans now hear on her new CD.

“The Age of Miracles” may be Carpenter’s most musically understated work yet. The CD includes one fairly frisky pop gem in “I Put My Ring Back On” and a pair of full-bodied ballads, “The Way I Feel” and “What You Look For.”

But otherwise, it is filled predominantly with artfully crafted, smartly worded acoustic ballads about the search for richness and rewards in love and life.

Such themes have populated her work throughout her career, however, she said.

“I just feel like I’ve always written about the sort of search for connection and ultimately the pain of love,” she said. “But also the benefits and the need for it, and the freedom of travel and the sense of searching that continues to go on in your life.”

For her summer tour, Carpenter is performing with a full band. And she is excited about it.

“When you go out summer after summer, year after year, I think it’s fair to assume that it might become somewhat routine perhaps,” she said. “I’ve never really felt that way. I’ve always felt very anticipatory about tours, especially in the summer when you can really get out and be outside at some of the beautiful venues. It’s a special time. So I don’t feel routine about it. I feel very, very happy about it. I don’t ever want to take it for granted.”

If You Go
What:
Mary Chapin Carpenter in concert with Madeleine Peyroux.
When: 8 p.m., Sunday, June 27.
Where: Boston Symphony Hall.
How: Tickets: $56.50, $39.50. Call 888-266-1200, or visit www.bso.org.

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