Mary Chapin Carpenter Returns to the Amp


Mary Chapin Carpenter thinks a concert is a chance to go on a journey.

The singer-songwriter hopes that audiences will go home feeling like fellowship has occurred.

At 8:15 p.m. August 27 in the Amphitheater, the five-time Grammy-winning artist will perform for Chautauqua Institution. Carpenter, who has performed at Chautauqua four times before, released her newest album, The Things That We Are Made Of, in April.

Carpenter, a self-taught musician, was born in Princeton, New Jersey and lived in Japan for part of her childhood.

Perhaps her only experience with music lessons was a short, unsuccessful attempt at piano during high school. She was bad at reading sheet music, something that she admits hasn’t changed much since.

She doesn’t have a favorite track from The Things That We Are Made Of, but instead said she loves the album “as a whole.” She began working on the music for it four years ago.

“Making records has always been a matter of writing, writing, writing and then just sort of getting to a place where it just feels like a natural point,” she said.

The last song she wrote was “The Things That We Are Made Of,” which is also the last song on the album.

“It’s as if I knew when I finished it … I’m done; I’m ready to go into the studio, so I went,” she said.

The Things That We Are Made Of is her 14th album. Her first came out in 1987.

“Every record is different simply because you’re a different person when you write those songs,” she said.

She said some of the themes of the album include the importance of place and time.

As a musician, she tends to go back to what she calls “sensations of childhood.” Some of those for her include the sound of crickets or a slamming door.

Carpenter loves to talk with the audience while performing a concert and plans to play both new and old music.

She believes people, regardless of who they are, share many struggles. She said she feels a connection with an audience.

“What I hope people take from [the concert] is a sense of connection more than anything else,” she said. “I feel I get that from music.”

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Georgeanne Oliver

The author Georgeanne Oliver

Georgeanne Oliver is the theater reporter for The Chautauquan Daily. She attends Northeastern University as a member of the class of 2017 and is originally from Maine.