Cabinet Of Wonders
Fri June 29, 2012
Cabinet Of Wonders: Episode Six
Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 2:15 pm
Comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo is a self-proclaimed bacon-eating vegan. On this episode of the Cabinet, she takes a stab at the good citizens who shop at Whole Foods. Novelist Sam Lipsyte gets laughs of his own, with a story about a man and a woman reunited over scrapple, hoping to rekindle a spark from long ago. And country music meets Shubert, when leading classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein takes the stage with singer and songwriter Tift Merritt. Mary Chapin Carpenter shares a new song about love's bitter end, matched in heartbreaking beauty by Langhorne Slim's "It's Time To Go." Kelly Hogan joins host John Wesley Harding to kick off the show with a heart-stopping Conway Twitty cover. Now that's variety!
Actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo has been an American institution since she burst on the scene in 1992. Janeane is an outspoken activist, spoken word performer and stand-up comedy entertainer. She was instrumental in the successful launching of the first liberal radio network, Air America Radio, where she hosted her own talk show, The Majority Report. Her latest stand-up show, Janeane Garofalo: If You Will, premiered on the EpixHD network this month.
American pianist Simone Dinnerstein gained an international following because of the remarkable success of her recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, which she raised the funds to record. Her album Bach: A Strange Beauty, released in January 2011, immediately earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart and she was the bestselling instrumentalist of 2011 on the US Billboard Classical Chart.
North Carolina songstress Tift Merritt has been compared to songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. She calls herself a huge fan of old-fashioned country music, but says she's not sure why she often gets pigeonholed into country music when she's always had an energetic rock band behind her. Her most recent studio album is See You On The Moon.
Novelist Sam Lipsyte is the author of the story collection Venus Drive (named one of the top twenty-five books of its year by the Voice Literary Supplement) and three novels: The Ask, The Subject Steve and Home Land, which was a New York Times Notable Book and received the first annual Believer Book Award. He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.
Mary Chapin Carpenter is a an American folk and country music singer, songwriter and musician, and spent many years singing in Washington, D.C. clubs. Her music has won five Grammy Awards and is the only artist to have won four consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Singer-songwriter Kelly Hogan is the consummate "singer's singer" who has fronted a succession of highly influential bands. In 1998, she joined the band of celebrated singer-songwriter Neko Case — a venture she describes as "finding my family." Her latest album, I Like To Keep Myself In Pain, was released in June, and she shared some of her songs at an NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance this month.
Langhorne Slim and his band The War Eagles mix folk and blues with reckless punk-rock energy. Born Sean Scolnick, he began to gain public notice through several years of touring with the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players and an appearance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, as well as appearances at other music festivals including the Newport Folk Festival.
JOHN WESLEY HARDING, HOST:
Welcome to the CABINET OF WONDERS from NPR. We're recording at Manhattan City Winery. And in the CABINET tonight: a menagerie of musicians, writers and comedians. There are also unforgettable tales brought to you by the delightfully disgruntled novelist, Sam Lipsyte. And after you've laughed so hard you can't take anymore, Janeane Garofalo will finish you off.
And what about the music? The worlds of classical and country are about to collide blissfully, when country singer Tift Merritt takes the CABINET stage with one of the greatest classical pianists alive, Simone Dinnerstein. And if your soul is stirred by the perfectly crafted song, prepare yourself appropriately. For with us are: Langhorne Slim, Kelly Hogan, and Mrs Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm John Wesley Harding and I've got the key. The CABINET OF WONDERS is open.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: I'm John Wesley Harding and this is the CABINET OF WONDERS from NPR. Because the time is right for a little variety. We're at New York City Winery. If words, music and comedy be the food of love, eat up! But first, a poem.
When the children have been good, that is, be it understood good at meal time, good at play, good all night and good all day, they shall have the pretty things this CABINET OF WONDERS brings. But, naughty romping girls and boys who tear their clothes and make a noise, spoil their pinafores and sheets and deserve no special treats: such as these will never yet enjoy this pretty CABINET. The door is locked, your money is spent.
May I present The CABINET, its contents and its dis-contents.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt. Mary Chapin Carpenter!
HARDING: Sam Lipsyte. Miss Kelly Hogan. Janeane Garofalo.
HARDING: And Mr Langhorne Slim. They'll all be back.
HARDING: Now, she's going to sing her own set, but luckily I've got her doing as much during the rest of the show as possible. Will you please welcome to the stage, Miss Kelly Hogan.
KELLY HOGAN: How's it going?
HARDING: Oh it's going great. It's so great to see you here.
HOGAN: Likewise I'm sure. I've been wanting to do this show for a long time.
HARDING: In 1990 Kelly Hogan and I lived in a building together in Atlanta, Georgia.
HOGAN: Yes we did.
HARDING: I lived above you.
HARDING: I was annoying.
HOGAN: Bernadette! Do do!
HARDING: It wasn't that. It was chairman of the board.
HOGAN: OK sorry.
HARDING: Give me just a little more time.
HOGAN: OK, OK. You did. OK, here goes.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
HARDING: (Singing) People see us everywhere. They think we really care.
HOGAN: (Singing) But myself I can't deceive. I know it's only make-believe. Oh yeah.
HARDING: (Singing) My one, my only prayer, is that someday you'll care. My hopes, my dreams come true. My one, my only you.
HOGAN: (Singing) No one will ever know. How much I love you so. My only prayer will be, someday you'll care for me. But it's only make-believe.
(Singing) My hopes, my dreams come true. My life I give for you. My heart, a wedding ring, my all, my everything.
HARDING: (Singing) No one will ever know, how much I love you so. My only prayer will be, someday you'll care for me. But it's only make-believe.
(Singing) My hopes, my dreams come true. My life I give to you. My heart, a wedding ring, my all my everything.
HOGAN: (Singing) My heart I can't control. You rule my very soul. My hopes, my prayers, my dreams. You are my everything, but it's only make... yes it's only make... yes it's only make-believe.
HARDING: She's not saving it for later. She's giving it all.
I think there are very few places safer to be, on a stage, as a male singing performer, with a fairly good voice, than next to Kelly Hogan, let me tell you that.
I have a poem for Simone, and I had a poem for Tift. But tonight they're appearing together, so let's not give their duo short shrift. It's Merritt and Dinnerstein solo. They're winners together, the most perfect gift, our gift to you tonight, Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ONLY IN SONGS")
TIFT MERRITT: (Singing) Sometimes this world's face, so cold and hard. I can't find the place for what's in my heart. Where beauty is patience. Dreaming is right. No need to curb the sweetness inside. Only in songs, is that only in songs. I guess the blues, is where I belong, if that's only in song.
(Singing) Where money has listened. So loud to say. Where power is something you just give away. Where God is nobody. A few people own. To fill you with shame, when you're feeling alone.
(Singing) Only in songs. Is that only in songs. This world is no place I care to belong. If this, only in songs. Where risk is not foolish. Where safety is vain. Where people believe things can really change. The night is falling, dark as a bruise. You wondered aloud, could someone love you?
(Singing) Always smooth. Only in songs. Is that only in songs? I guess the blues is where I belong, if it's only in songs. Can't be only in songs.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "NIGHT AND DREAMS")
MERRITT: Dark of night, you find me, here. Dark of night you fall so quietly. Come to hide the harsh day. Night. You hold me so quiet, tender. Tenderly.
Oh night, when dreams break, in the morning. You will hear me cry out. Come back, come back home.
HARDING: That was one of the most astonishingly beautiful things we've ever had on the CABINET. First song by Tift Merritt. Second song by little known country composer, Schubert. Tift Merritt, Simone Dinnerstein. Come on.
Time to catch our collective breath; the CABINET OF WONDERS will be back, in a moment. This is NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
HARDING: Welcome back.
HARDING: This is the CABINET OF WONDERS from NPR. I'm John Wesley Harding and I always keep my promise.
HARDING: You're so nice. You're so nice to me. So we have our first reading of the night coming up next. And I have concocted a poem about this novelist. But it's very short. And contains an exceedingly clever rhyme. So. A bag, loose lips, a pair of pants: three things that should be zipped tight. The ask, homeland, the subject's Steve, three novels by Sam Lipsyte. Ladies and gentlemen, bring him to the stage, Sam Lipsyte.
SAM LIPSYTE: Thank you. Close your eyes and think of love for this piece.
(Reading) The shock about Shaun was his shock of white hair. It looked regal but incongruous with the dark locked boy she's known. He stood and vaguely bowed as she approached the table. A fairly formal gesture for a place that's specialized in artisanal scrapple.
(Reading) Shaun, she called, with cheerful volume. As though to cover for her disappointment in his follicles. Tofa, Shaun said, awesome. They hugged. And Tofa's chin grazed his collar bone. That zap, the hot sweet charge of the party long ago tingled. She wanted Shaun to save her. And give her a baby. After that, maybe he'd have to leave.
LIPSYTE: (Reading) You look great, Tofa said. If that's true, said Shaun, I owe it to the mighty sport of handball. I play with the ethnic gentleman at the playground. It's an epic workout. You look really good too. Seriously. I never exercise and I rarely eat, said Tofa. It's a winning plan.
(Reading) I think you're meant to be a little heavier though. You're tall and skinny, with big beautiful bones. Big bones, said Tofa. Tots, said Shaun, I know it's a euphemism for chubby girls, but you just happen to be hot with slightly extra large bones. I always wanted to jump them. That night we talked. That was an epic night.
(Reading) They hadn't even heard the specials, and he'd already mentioned their magic moment. Man, he said, what's it been? 20 years? 16, said Tofa. Oh that's better. How's your sister, Tofa asked. I haven't spoken with her in a long time. She's good. I mean evil. She works for this huge rapalicious(ph) law firm.
(Reading) Is she still married? Tots: what's tots? said Tofa. Sorry, I work with a lot of young people. I pick up their lingo. Anyway man, Tofa, you do look really good. Was it possible he could be a moron and still be her savior?
LIPSYTE: (Reading) Where do you work? asked Tofa. Right now, I'm involved with a new startup, Shaun said. It's hard to explain. We make apps for apps basically. So that pays well? No, not yet. Meantime I'm working with organic food materials. Mostly flower items. Like a muffin shop? Yeah, pretty much. I'm a part-time pre-school teacher right now. Sounds epic, Shaun said. Little - little kids. I love the kids, said Tofa. But the politics... Or could she be the moron?
(Reading) A young waiter arrived without menus and explained the ordering process. Which involved a few crucial decisions about sides and beverages, but a surrender of volition in the realm of entrees. Tonight was Thursday, which meant Pennsylvania style scrapple. What exactly is scrapple, Tofa asked. It's Mennonite soul food, Shaun said.
(Reading) The waiter rolled his eyes. It's everything from the pig, except the meat, said the waiter.
LIPSYTE: (Reading) Organs, hoofs, eye lashes, lips. It's - it's all pressed together into a loaf. I personally love it. Sounds kind of tref (ph), Tofa said. Trey tref, doll face, the waiter said. After dinner you can join a settlement and redeem yourself. Woo there buddy, Shaun said. It's OK, I'm a Yid, the waiter said. Really, Tofa said. Tots, the waiter said. Look, I think I'm going to leave, Tofa said. I actually prefer pig eye-lashes as a separate dish.
(Reading) Of course, Shaun said. Let's go. They walked the streets for a while. Laughed at the lousy waiter and the Perspex tival(ph) complexity of time. It reminded Tofa of those play scenes from eighth-grade. Lovers by the creek, or at the carnival. Something about the moon. Shaun looked at Tofa, caressed the collar of her shirt. Twenty years later and I still feel attracted to you. Sixteen, Tofa said.
(Reading) I had no idea you liked me. I was so smitten. You were the genius. You were going to do all the wonderful things. Yeah, well. What happened? asked Tofa. Nothing happened, Shaun said. I've had all sorts of adventures. Good times, bad times. You know I've had my share. Seriously, Tofa said. Seriously I wasn't measuring myself against a prophecy of me. We were, Tofa said. Well then up yours, big bones.
LIPSYTE: (Reading) That's your problem. And what are you doing that's so great? I'm sorry, Tofa said. You're right. I'm being abrasive. I get scared of intimacy. I flail. That's so cool, said Shaun. Let's start again, said Tofa. No more scrapple. I don't think so, Shaun said. Whatever the opposite of compatible is, that's us. Incompatible? Tofa said. If you say so, wordsmith.
(Reading) Thing is, we both need the same crap. Somebody with money and security. And also did I mention money? To shore up our egos, to nurture our unrealistic dreams. Yes, Tofa said. That's actually true. That's an insight. Thank you, Shaun said. I used to be very promising. So, I guess you know, you want to know if my hair turned white overnight, or in stages? Not really. Shaun spoke into the darkness for a while, telling a mesmerizing, no doubt spurious tale that began in the Solomon Islands, and went somewhere Tofa chose not to follow.
(Reading) She didn't care about him, or his saga, or the whiteness of his hair one whit. She could never mate with a man who called her big bones, even once, even in jest. She could never expose her eggs to such a jerk.
HARDING: When you sit down and you come up with a story with a bunch of lines in it, that are basically getting as many laughs as the stand-up comedians, do you think that, because you're a writer and it's literature, that it's not expected to be as funny and therefore gets a better reaction?
LIPSYTE: You mean, am I cheating a little bit?
HARDING: Yes cheating a little bit.
HARDING: We bring you the finest in modern literature. Ladies and gentlemen, Sam Lipsyte, Sam Lipsyte.
What could be up next?
HARDING: This next performer, well she's sung already, but she's been such a big influence on me. Her attitude to making music and also the fact that, I think she's one of the great singers in America today. And, so I read this poem, which is somewhat sarcastic about her. But you have to know how deeply I love her.
I have known Hogan since time commenced. I once lived in a flat just above her. But I've never known her in the biblical sense. Though to know Kelly Hogan is to love her. For many years, my favorite singer, lover of spaniels, cocker or springer, she's a winger; a swinger; a rounder; a ringer, no more slogans. Let's hear it for a record from Miss Kelly Hogan.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "I LIKE TO KEEP MYSELF IN PAIN")
HOGAN: (Singing) I like to keep myself in pain. Even when the sun is high. Shining on the olive trees. There's still a shadow in my eye. Yes. And that shadow must be yours. Falling all across the plains. I got your wreckage in my heart, so, I like to keep myself in pain.
(Singing) In the quiet night I sleep, to the sweet cascading rains. Then your voices come to haunt me, so, I like to keep myself in pain. (Screams)
(Singing) Oh, oh yes.
(Singing) I like to keep myself in pain. Mm. It's not conscious, I just do. Must be something that I learned, from all my time with you. When people ask me where you are, I say don't ask me that again. Even if I told the truth this time, well I wouldn't know how to begin. That's right. 'Cause pains the only thing you left me, if I let it go then I won't know who I am. My old brain, it keeps me alive, oh ho, it keeps me alive, oh, ho. It keeps me alive, so, I like to keep myself in pain.
HOGAN: Doesn't that feel good? It was like a dog rolling in a dead squirrel. It's fun. Jim Elkington on guitar, Casey McDonough on bass and Joe Camarillo on the drums. My guys.
HARDING: What a night of entertainment, jiminy crickets. Obesity's a serious problem. Hardly starving people, there's so many of them. But he'd never chuckle at Fatty Arbuckle, not him, he's been to the gym. Brother of Fat Boy, it's Langhorne Slim.
LANGHORNE SLIM: Thanks a lot.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SALVATION")
SLIM: (Singing) I've been looking for salvation. I've been searching low and high. Well I'm tired of being patient. All this waiting's been a waste of time.
(Singing) Well it's no wonder how we got here. In many ways I wrote this script. By loading all our treasures, into the belly of a sinking ship. I tried to hold you but my hands were cold. I meant to catch you but I moved too slow. I hate to leave you, but it's time to go.
(Singing) Girl, this love has left us tired. Oh this love's beat us black and blue. And it's the child that's still in me, that wants you even though we're through. I tried to hold you but my hands were cold. I meant to catch you but I moved too slow. Don't want to leave you but I know, it's time to go.
(Singing) I've been looking for salvation. I've been searching low and high. I forgot that it was waiting, in your smile and in your eyes. Down the hills and through the winding roads. You hold my mind and I've lost control. I never meant to fully disappear. Now that you've gone, it has become clear. Well I hope to see you before hell gets cold. But I'm scared to leave you girl, but I know, it's time to go. Hm, mm, mm. Hm, mm. Oh.
SLIM: Thank you very much.
HARDING: Langhorne Slim. Let's bring the English UK back up here.
SLIM: This song's called "Past Lives."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "PAST LIVES")
SLIM: (Singing) I don't remember being born. I don't remember how it felt. And I never knew the deal, or the way it was dealt. I know it wasn't August. I heard it was hot. I know I've got a mother, who loves me a lot. Do you believe in past lives? Haven't I met you before? When they said that I was dead, it wasn't true, I was just dead to you. And I ain't dead anymore.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
SLIM: (Singing) Maybe I was an outlaw or the law itself. And maybe I was a rich man or a rich man's help. Perhaps I lived in China, perhaps I loved in vain. Maybe I missed the boat, but made the train. Do you believe in past lives? Haven't I met you before? When they said that I was dead, it wasn't true, I was just dead to you. And I ain't, well I ain't dead anymore.
A hand for this great band.
(Singing) I wish that I were good, no man, wish that I were great. I wish that I'd been early more often than late. But nothing lasts forever, maybe that's fate. When you're alive you're all right, when you're a dead you're a saint. Do you believe in past lives? Haven't I met you before? Oh honey when they said Scolnick is dead, it wasn't true, I was dead to you. And I ain't dead, I ain't dead anymore. All right.
HARDING: On the bass guitar, that's Eddie Carlson. Singing, Langhorne Slim. Adam Gold on the drums and on the piano, in this instance, Mr David Nagler. The English UK, Langhorne Slim. The evening is reaching its palpitating climax. But it's hard to follow that act, so I think we'll all go outside and have a look up at the night sky. Give us a minute will you. When we're back, you will feel the gravitational pull of Janeane Garofalo and Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: This is the CABINET OF WONDERS from NPR. I'm John Wesley Harding and my little black book of poems is starting to vibrate in my pocket. Must be time to introduce our next guest to the stage. The last poem I wrote for this next act, 'cause she's been on our show before, was a disaster, because I was under the misapprehension that the children's book "The Gruffalo," was a tall well-known, in America.
HARDING: It turned out not to be and that I'd been spending too much time in England. So I've written another one. Nothing rhymes with Gruffalo, except maybe the acronym, ROFLMAO.
HARDING: Which is obviously a shame for a poem featuring her name. She's been in my sights since reality bites and she may indeed have you rolling on the floor, laughing quite hard. It's the queen, Janeane Garofalo. Janeane Garofalo
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
JANEANE GAROFALO: Thank you. It's a good thing, he's British with that poetry.
GAROFALO: So why do I have my backpack? That's a question people ask a lot. I just like to have it with me.
GAROFALO: 'Cause, I have an issue with Irish goodbyes. Whenever I'm somewhere, I like, I like to just leave. So don't think me rude if I go and not say my goodbyes to everyone, it's just, I've got a lot of social anxiety. Which brings me to the Whole Foods checkout line. Listen.
GAROFALO: Have you, have you - Of course you have, you're at the City Winery and NPR's here. Why am I asking that question? I know and you don't watch television.
GAROFALO: I get it. I'm on your side. I hear you. Whole Foods checkout. Now especially the one in Union Square. There is a system. There is a system by golly and there's ropes and color coding and a voice and arrows. Everyone plays their part. It's like World War II Britain. Stiff upper lip and all of that. You are going to abide by the rules of the checkout at Whole Foods.
Now have you ever been there, perhaps, when someone has breached the protocol?
GAROFALO: I've never seen such civic action with such alacrity, to right the wrong that has just occurred.
GAROFALO: Everyone gets involved. Wouldn't it be great if that level of civic pride were in play when, say it was someone was get mugged.
GAROFALO: Or harassed on the subway. I guess the stakes aren't high enough in that case. But after that, I mean, I will - I'm online - I do not avert my eyes from when my number's called. I, I am - I am not going to be part of the problem, put it that way.
GAROFALO: But then sometimes I will get up there to checkout and then comes the question, do you need a bag? Oh no. A thousand - Yes I do, I'm so sorry. Can we get past this? How can I make this up to you? I need a bag. Ordinarily I bring one. I just didn't today. And then sometimes I do have one but it's from Trader Joe's.
GAROFALO: And I just - I just feel like it's not - It would seem provocative, so I don't - I pretend I don't have one and then to make matters worse, please don't think ill of me. But as you exit Whole Foods a lot, there is very nice young people with clipboards and windbreakers. I applaud you. I applaud you and the work that you're doing. I am in no way being condescending. But I will walk into incoming traffic to avoid the clipboard.
GAROFALO: I don't know why, but it makes me very anxious, like very, very tense.
GAROFALO: And I will start walking with purpose, or I'll look in my backpack, check my watch that I'm not wearing. But sometimes they get you. They make eye contact. They're so earnest and shining eyes and skin. And oh, it's the way they phrase it sometimes. Excuse me, do you have a minute for the environment? Don't say it like that.
GAROFALO: Don't say it like that. Of course I have many minutes for the environment. I don't have time for you. That's a totally separate issue.
GAROFALO: These are two totally different things here.
GAROFALO: And I have been known to go back and get a vegan muffin for the kid. I, I mean I feel so bad, I'll get a vegan. And I'm vegan, I'm totally vegan, so there's that. Except for bacon. But I...
GAROFALO: But I am, I'm busy - Well, I'm walking the walk here and I do love a broad, I do love a broad. But other than that, I'm basically ovo-lacto, I'm committed. And I like the pepperoni, one at a time. I don't eat the cheese.
GAROFALO: Be that as it may and then there's a - a third thing on the subway. As soon as the doors close, every once in a while you hear, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I'm like ohhhh! Ohh, the wrong car again. It's that - It's that tone, that pitch. The, the, the story that's coming. So I always have singles at the ready 'cause, you know, sometimes it nips it in the bud.
Because neither one of us wants to go through this.
GAROFALO: But - But sometimes the money doesn't stop it, the story's going to come at you. That narrative's coming. You know, this person, let's say they're between homes.
GAROFALO: Between, between jobs and between homes. But, you know, the thing - the, the thing I take issue with is, give me a new story. It's like I'm, I'm a, you know a father of whatever, a veteran, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I've heard that one. I'm a god-fearing man. I've heard that one. Give me, give me - You know, how about, I'm a pacifist, I have not gone down the road of children and home ownership and a spouse.
Now we've got us a horse race, now I'm interested. Now I'm in.
GAROFALO: You know what? Have three singles, have three, have three dollars and then I will take the rest and go to a food truck or Sephora.
GAROFALO: Anyway, I think I've gone way over. I'm so sorry. Thank you. Goodnight.
HARDING: Janeane Garofalo. Janeane Garofalo. This next poem is really short. Jefferson was a gardener, Houdini liked escaping. Jesus was a carpenter, so is Mary Chapin.
HARDING: Ladies and gentlemen, with her new album "Ashes and Roses," it's Mary Chapin Carpenter.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: So I notice that Kelly Hogan featured a lot of songs by contemporary songwriters and one of them was - one of them was me. Do you have any songs by me on your record?
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER: I'm afraid I don't.
HARDING: It's - Well there you go. Do you have any songs by anybody else on your record?
HARDING: It's real singer-songwriter business. Do you feel like you've got out a lot of your own true feelings?
CARPENTER: Yes. Sort of hard to sum up in a few words but...
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: Particularly while you're tuning a guitar.
CARPENTER: Well, it's about loss and...
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
CARPENTER: ...more loss.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
HARDING: Sounds like a hoot.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
CARPENTER: And freedom.
HARDING: Well and yes, you're going to play a song from the new record now.
CARPENTER: I was going to play the title song.
(SOUNDBITE OF LIVE MUSIC)
CARPENTER: If I can get in tune. Oh. You can talk some more.
HARDING: I'll talk some more. A bunny goes into a bar.
HARDING: Do you know this joke? And he says, do you have any lettuce and the man behind the bar says, no we don't have any lettuce. And same time the next day, the bunny goes into the bar and says, do you have any lettuce. And the man behind the bar says, no and if you come in again I'm going to nail your paws to the bar.
And the next day the bunny comes back and says, do you have any nails? And the man behind the bar says, no we don't have any nails. He goes, oh OK, do you have any lettuce?
HARDING: Are you in tune now?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ASHES AND ROSES")
CARPENTER: I love him.
(Singing) There's a big white house on a leafy street. On a summer's day in 1963. The station wagon's parked on the drive. With dents in the fender and wood on the side. There's kids and dogs and instamatic hues, squinting hard in the sun. Not just yet but one day too, they'll be chasing what's already gone.
(Singing) You grow up tall and you grow up taller. Try to never admit not feeling good enough. They tell you, find your passion, then you'll find your way. Just trying to make it unscathed through every day. And it seems to happen nearly overnight, life shows you who you become. When there's no more mystery in the fading light, you're just chasing what's already gone.
(Singing) Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
(Singing) Like the line that spells the far horizon. Moving with you as fast as you can run. Half your life you pay it no attention. The rest you can't stop wondering, what you should have done. Instead of chasing what's already gone. Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm.
(Singing) Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm. Hm, hm, hm, hm. Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm. Hm, hm, hm. Yes.
(Singing) I saw my father in a dream last night. He was smiling and saying, you're going to be all right. And this morning I stared back at myself. Feeling as empty as I've ever felt. But I keep on going and I hope I've learned, more of what's right than what's wrong. It's ashes and roses and time that burns, when you're chasing what's already gone.
(Singing) Ashes and roses and hearts that break, I tried so hard to be strong. It may be my worst but not my first mistake. I'm chasing what's already gone. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Hm, hm, hm, hm, hm, hm. Chasing what's already gone.
CARPENTER: Thank you so much.
HARDING: Mary Chapin Carpenter
Our cabinet is now ended. These are actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, thin air and like the baseless fabric of this beautiful Vivienne Westwood suit.
HARDING: The brilliant songs, the thought provoking readings, the slightly unnerving comics. The great City Winery itself. Yay, all which it inherits shall dissolve. And like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a guitar pick behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep. Ladies and gentlemen, the cabinet is closed.
HARDING: To those of you here with us tonight and those of you listening elsewhere, thank you. Do please go online and listen to other episodes of this show, CABINET OF WONDERS.NPR.org is where you'll fine them. They're all extraordinary. This is the CABINET OF WONDERS. I'm John Wesley Harding, goodnight.
HARDING: Ladies and gentlemen, Mary Chapin Carpenter. Tift Merritt. Simone Dinnerstein. It's Langhorne Slim. Janeane Garofalo. Kelly Hogan.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "SINGING A SONG IN THE MORNING")
HARDING: Did I forget anyone?
(Singing) Singing a song in the morning. Singing it again at night. I don't even know what I'm singing about. But it makes me feel I feel all right, yes, yes. It makes me feel I feel all right. Singing a song in the morning. Singing it again at night. I don't even know what I'm singing about. But it makes me feel I feel all right. It makes me feel I feel all right.
CARPENTER: (Singing) Singing a song in the morning. Singing it again at night. I don't even know what I'm singing about. But it makes me feel I feel all right, yes, yes. It makes me feel I feel all right.
HARDING: David Nagler. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.