“It is the best of all trades, to make songs, and the second best to sing them.”
– Hilaire Beloc
I came across this quote while watching Clint Eastwood’s recent documentary on Johnny Mercer, who is probably my favorite of the “Great American Songbook” writers. Mercer wrote, among other things, “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)”, “Moon River”, and “Laura”. He had a sense of the vernacular in a way that other lyricists of his time didn’t – maybe it was his southern roots, his youth spent immersed in the black music of Savannah, Georgia, or maybe he just had the gift. Johnny Mercer was also a damn good singer, and I think that being a singer can’t help but influence you as a lyricist. Oftentimes in the process of writing I favor the line that “sings the best”, because ultimately it’s the singer (me) who has to deliver it.
Singing and songwriting have been on my mind lately, as I’m looking ahead to spending a healthy chunk of the winter of 2010 writing new songs. Last year was a whirlwind: 97 shows, 137 days on the road, and a lot of new friends and fans (for all the highlights, check out the new video, noted below). But it’s time to get back to my other job – writing. The reaction to the new song “Woman On The Wheel”, which we opened most of our late 2009 shows with, was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic that I feel pretty good about facing the blank page (check with me when I’m three days in and haven’t come up with a thing!). But whether I’m coming home from a marathon tour like the one we just finished, or looking ahead to a long (and sometimes lonely) stretch of writing, I still feel I have the best two jobs in the world.
That’s not to say that we won’t be on the road in 2010 – there are a few dates on the website already and a lot more in the works. Hope we see you out there.
- Laura217, whom many of you know from our forum, created a chat room for last year’s Circus Girl webcast back in August of 2009. It was such a success that we’ve decided to try another chat, only this time I’m going to be in the chat room too, instead of on the stage. Laura has organized the live chat at her fansite for January 9th. I’ll be there to answer questions, let you know how the songwriting is coming, quash rumors (and start some!), and find out how you are all doing. We’ll start at 3PM Central US time, so as to allow for our friends in the UK and Europe to participate. Pull up a chair, make a cup of tea and come chat with us at Laura’s site on Saturday Jan. 9th – see you there!
An Evening of Stories & Storytellers
Last year I hosted a benefit here in Nashville for Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee. My guest that night was the incredible Janis Ian, who wowed the sold-out crowd and made the whole event really special. The folks at Planned Parenthood were thrilled and wanted to do it again. My challenge was to organize a line-up that would be equally special. Thank goodness I have some pretty amazing friends! This year, on January 30th, we’ll be presenting an Evening of Stories & Storytellers with my friends Minton Sparks and Marshall Chapman. Minton is a mesmerizing performer, a spoken word artist, a poet, and a brilliant and wise soul. Marshall is an incorrigible wit, an author, songwriter, guitar slinger and singer, and an unrepentant rocker. These are two formidable women. The three of us will be performing at the Rutledge in Nashville at 8PM. Tickets and information are available at Planned Parenthood of Middle and East TN.
Ribbon Of Highway, Endless Skyway
Woody Guthrie’s songs were among the first songs I learned as a child. On long family road trips we’d sing “This Land Is Your Land”, “Union Maid” and “Car Song” until our ears rang. But I never heard them in quite the same way after I participated in my first Ribbon Of Highway show. This is a truly thought-provoking and moving evening – and it’s also immensely entertaining. Drawn from not only his songs, but his written words, the show is a celebration of Woody’s body of work. We’ll be at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, WA on January 15. The cast includes ROH founder Jimmy LaFave, Michael Fracasso, Joel Rafael and Ray Bonneville and myself.
THEIR Best of 2009
I’m thrilled and proud that the album that started out as a little side-project, One To The Heart, One To The Head, has appeared on quite a few Best of 2009 lists. In no particular order, here are a few of the best:
- Twangnation’s Best of 2009
- Flop-Eared Mule Best of 2009
- Country California’s Best Albums of 2009
- Mike Regenstreif’s Top Twenty for 2009
- Music Road Best of 2009
And finally, OTTH, OTTH made the 9513‘s list of most overlooked albums of 2009. Overlooked? Not by you guys!
OUR Best of 2009
It wasn’t easy to pack all the highlights of last year into 10 minutes of film, but I tried. Watch this video to see how we spent our 2009. You never know, you may be in the video!
Wine, Women & Song – on THIS side of the pond!
My soul sisters, Matraca Berg and Suzy Bogguss, and I will be doing two shows here in the US in February. We are so excited to bring this show to some of you in the States. We’re working on other dates, but for now those of you who are determined to see Wine, Women & Song may want to consider a road trip. Or if you’re lucky enough to live in Atlanta, GA or Columbus, OH, we’ll be right in your back yard.
Wine, Women & Song (Gretchen Peters, Matraca Berg & Suzy Bogguss) in concert:
February 6 – Columbus Maennerchor (Columbus, OH)
for tickets email Alec Wightman or phone 614-296-5006
February 24 – Eddie’s Attic (Decatur, GA)
for tickets visit Eddie’s Attic
What’s an RSS?
Just a reminder – one of the cool features of the new website is the RSS feed. You can sign up for the RSS feed at gretchenpeters.com – just click on the News link and read all about it. If you’re not sure what RSS is or why you’d want it, you can find out here.
Download of the Month
This month’s download is “On A Bus To St. Cloud,” recorded at Daniels Hall, Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver, Colorado one frosty February evening in 2009. Download the song at my website.
I hope 2010 brings you joy.