When a life threatening illness forced Mary Chapin Carpenter to abruptly cancel her 2007 summer tour, doubts, disappointment and depression came rushing in. “I went through this period of wondering what’s going to happen to me now,” she says. “If I’m not working, if I’m not playing music on the stage and traveling in a bus, who am I?”
For the five-time Grammy winner whose folk-country career spans more than two decades, that dark, lost period culminated with the creation of her 12th studio album, The Age of Miracles, a beautiful collection of songs reflecting a soul at peace (one stand-out track, “I Was A Bird,” features guest vocals by Alison Krauss).
“I’ve always made albums with the idea that each one is a snapshot of where you are in your life,” she notes. “I remember doing interviews five or six years ago [for Between Here and Gone], and trying to sum it up and the only thing I could come up with is that it’s a record for grown-ups. I wasn’t trying to exclude anyone, but it wasn’t a record I could have made when I was 20.”
The Age of Miracles is no exception. “Let’s face it, [we live in] a youth culture.” But the very first song on the record, “We’ve Traveled So Far,” is about being happy with where you are and “taking stock of how far you’ve come and the pride that you can have and feel when you look back. That journey can be a metaphor for anything, aging, jobs, relationships. For me personally, I was trying to look at all the adversity and not be drowned by it.”
As she gears up for her 2010 summer tour, the first time on the road since her illness, Carpenter realizes the gift she’s been given in being able to get back on the bus and continue doing what she knows best. “Touring used to be a rite of summer,” she says. “To go out on the road every year for so long, I just look forward to it. I love being outside and playing. It just feels great, celebratory."
Buy it here.