Yesterday on Facebook, there was a discussion about Hurricane Andrew, which devastated Florida in 1992. Andrew crossed the Florida peninsula my first week back in college that year, but that year I was at a new school, making new friends, and finally in pharmacy school. My brother-in-law mentioned that it was 25 years ago and damn if he wasn’t right. But then I got to thinking, if it’s been 25 years since Hurricane Andrew, then it’s been 25 year since the release of one of the most influential albums in my life, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come On Come On.
Released at the end of June in 1992, it didn’t slip on to my radar until right around the time that Hurricane Andrew was making landfall in Florida. It was then that I first saw the video for the album’s lead single “I Feel Lucky.” I had a vague idea of who she was because I had seen her perform “Down at the Twist and Shout” on some awards show (maybe the Grammys?) and liked it quite a bit, but never enough to actually buy any of her albums. Even “I Feel Lucky” didn’t prompt me to go buy the album. At least not then.
I did eventually purchase Shooting Straight In The Dark during the Christmas season of 1993, and within a few months, I had purchased all her albums, including Come On Come On. I’m pretty sure I sold my body to buy the album – you could make $35 a pop at the university hospital by donating platelets so I would do that every 3-4 weeks or so and then go treat myself to CDs with the money I made. This was the beginning of my love affair with Chapin’s music, which has continued to this day. By then, I knew a few more songs off the album, “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and the ubiquitous “Passionate Kisses” which managed to crack into the pop charts as well.
I remember the lyric “Do I want too much?/Am I going overboard to want that touch?/Shout it out to the night/Give me what I deserve, ‘cuz it’s my right!” particularly resonating with 21 year old Dan. Chapin was a perfect foil to my mindset at the time, and I can’t think about college without thinking about her. Every time I listen to this album, I will always think of studying at the Iowa Memorial Union, feeling like at least someone understood me. She sang how I was feeling at the time and as a result, Come On Come On is in my top 5 albums of all time. I simply never tire of it. Even the songs I didn’t care for much when I first heard it (“Rhythm of the Blues”, “Not Too Much To Ask”) have aged much better than I ever thought they would.
Come On Come On would eventually spin off something like seven singles, causing me to refer to it as the Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation: 1814 of country albums (I probably stole that from somewhere.) But two of my favorite songs never made the cut as singles. Probably deemed too melancholy, the tracks “Only A Dream” which tells the story of two sisters growing up and, as Chapin says “trying to hold real hard to memories and not being able to sometimes” and “I Am A Town,” which uses fantastic imagery to describe rural Southern small towns, are highlights on the album for me. Chapin went on to rerecord both of those songs with a full orchestra for her Songs from the Movie album.
It will always be one of my all-time favorite albums, and I really wish it would get reissued on vinyl. It would be a fitting tribute to an album that helped shape me into who I am today.
Happy 25th, Come On Come On. And here’s to 25 more years of listening.