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Recorded over the years by Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Bryan Adams and others, Gretchen Peters’ work is included in the show – live in the UKa beautiful new two-disc album from the Proper Music Group.
Gold Mine: welcome back gold mine. congratulations The show – live from the UK. This is a great collection. The first record ends with your first chart single “When You Are Old”, the first of yours I bought 30 years ago when it came out as the finale of Martina McBride’s 1992 debut album . A few years later, when your cassette single came out, the flip side was another of my favorite songs, “I’ve Been Looking For You,” which I thought was about finding yourself first, and then finding someone else.
Gretchen Peters: Wow. That’s backtracking. I think you have a perfectly valid explanation. Musically, I try to find new ground for myself. I think every singer-songwriter who grows up as a folk singer has a musical path to chord progression, feel and fingerpicking. I remember trying to find a new musical idea for myself. I feel like I have found something new for myself. There’s a hint of “on the bus to St. Cloud” seeing someone when they’re not around, and you’ll see them wherever you go. In “I’ve Been Looking For You”, people believe that someone will make everything okay, and I think that’s going to cause us a lot of trouble. Sometimes it’s true and it all works out, but sometimes it’s a dangerous hope to believe.
Wonderful opposite: I’m looking for you
One side: when you are old
billboard Hot Country Singles Debut: April 20, 1996
Peak position: No. 68
Imprint 18001 (cassette sheet)
General Motors: You mentioned “On the Bus to St. Cloud,” another song we highlighted last time, included on the new album along with other favorites we’ve discussed, “Wichita,” When All You Get Is A Hammer”, “When You Love Someone”, and a song that made my 2019 Top 10 when it was recorded at Trisha Yearwood, “The Bullfighter.” Now let’s discuss the songs we didn’t cover last time, starting with “Hello Cruel World,” which was a haunting, stubborn girl.
general practitioner: “Hello Cruel World” is one that I insist on performing and recording with a string quartet because you expect beautiful ballads with strings, but in this song, it’s a minor key with a pulsating beat that you don’t quite Expect to hear on the strings. As you said, the strings do make it memorable and fit in with the general attitude of the song. I think that song is my manifesto. It acknowledges the difficulties of being human, but at its core is an upbeat song that says, “I’m willing to pay a penny, a pound, because I don’t want to miss this show.” I’m not leaving, but it won’t be easy.
General Motors: Speaking of strings, the Southern Fried String Quartet shines on “Blackbird,” especially Alice’s cello. Between the cello and the content, it reminds me of Harry Chapin’s epic “The Sniper,” who turns 80 this year.
general practitioner: Strings can be so evocative and menacing here, which is what I was hoping for in “Blackbird.” When we were on this tour in April 2019 and recording the future album, I remember every night when the song came on, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck as the strings entered the icy flickering harmonic pass. Put it up. If “Blackbird” was from a horror movie, this would be the soundtrack. They played using a chord diagram we wrote specifically for this tour. There are no strings in the original recording.I’m thinking of the soundtrack to kill a robin. I want that ominous feeling.
General Motors: The strings then capture the beauty in “The Love of Making a Cup of Tea.” The song is like an anthem, reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” or even Paul Stookey’s “The Wedding Song (There is Love).” It’s a wonderful combination.
general practitioner: Thank you. That song was a bit of a surprise. On my last tour, I don’t know if I did it the night you and your daughter Brianna were there, just acoustically. I’m so amazed at how much people love this song because we always need that unconditional love. I’ve taken people to some dark places in some of the other songs, so I think it’s a comforting way to end the night. When we have string quartets on tour, we want to use them for the reasons you mentioned. It was an obvious showcase for them.
General Motors: When Brianna and I saw you in Florida, it was just you and Barry playing the piano, so the whole show had a nice and intimate feel. Let’s talk about Barry in “Everything Falls Away.” That show was a lesson in how to play the piano!
general practitioner: I never tire of listening to him play that song. It won’t be exactly the same on any given night. He really shines. I think this song is symbolic of the best thing he and I did together, which was going from a very quiet dynamic to a very loud voice. I agree with you. I love watching him play that song. He just let it go at the end and people are always admired and surprised. I always have to remind people that this is a guy who worked with Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, and pretty much every songwriter in Nashville in the 1990s. I’m really lucky to have him play the piano with me.
General Motors: You stretch yourself on that song too. Your treble is in the Alison Krause range. What a wonderful performance.
general practitioner: Thank you. That’s a song that didn’t get a lot of attention at first, but when we played it live, it shifted to another level. I think I’ll keep playing that song.
General Motors: We just talked about my daughter. You also mentioned a daughter in “Five Minutes.” In that short period of time, the family, the daughter, the history, the old guy, the new guy, and the daughter’s boyfriend, all revealed so much. You weave together a lot of stories.
general practitioner: As songwriters, our job is to tell a story worthy of a book or a movie in three to five minutes. We work within a minimal framework, where the power of words is combined with melody and music, and you can do it. When I teach songwriting, I use “five minutes” as an example for my students, if you do character work and you know the characters, you can really give your audience a complete picture of who the characters are with very few words, but you Really have to do background work. I spent a lot of time thinking about her with the woman in that song, asking her who she was and what she thought, but it didn’t come quickly. I think the work gives you a rich character.
General Motors: Certain singers are drawn to story songs. I thought of Kathy Mattea, and I can imagine her covering this.
general practitioner: Bless the singers who are drawn to story songs because without them I would not have a career. I have loved story songs all my life. I think that’s what made me a folk singer when I first picked up the guitar in New York as a kid, and what drew me into country music later. It’s the same thing that draws me to novels and movies, stories about people and the things they do and go through, the battles they fight, and I’ll always be interested in that.
General Motors: In the mid-1990s, when you debuted as a recording artist, so did Kim Richey. I love her cassette single “Those Words We Said”, it has an alternative country feel. You’ll be back on tour with her as she returns to the UK at the end of the month.
general practitioner: Yes. In 2018 Kim came to the UK with us to accompany us and sing with us. We won’t let Kim hit the road with us or let her sing. I love Kim and think she’s one of the greatest singers around. She was easy, singing on the last few studio albums I recorded. Every time she goes into the studio and sings, everyone gets excited, the engineer, the producer, because she’s amazing. She was a dear friend and I’m glad she came out with us again. When you’re on the road with Kim, her camp counselor will show up. You can’t take a day off. She will arrange some field trips for the whole team. It got us out of the hotel room. She is the best instigator.
General Motors: Have a wonderful trip. You are my last concert before the pandemic. Brianna and I will always remember this. Of course I missed concerts during those two years. Now I cherish it even more as music returns, in fact this month, locally in Central Florida, I’ll see a female duo named Gailforce who I haven’t seen in years is your most famous work One of “Independence Day,” the Martina McBride hit we discussed last time. Good luck to you Barry, Kim and everyone else.
general practitioner: thank you then gold mine. Nice to speak with you again. Be careful.
Goldmines 2019 Interview with Gretchen Peters
Fabulous Flip Sides is now in its eighth year