Saturday, July 7, 2012

Knowing What I Know Now


Shawn Colvin’s new memoir reads more like the transcript of an extended radio interview than a legitimate book. It is a casual collection of every on-the-road war story Shawn can remember and then some. Reading this quickie chronicle will reveal all sorts of nuggets relating to her vast catalog of songs and how they all came to be. For devotees of Ms. Colvin, (count me in,) you’ll enjoy this fascinating stuff.

The book’s unifying thread, of course, is Shawn’s spider-web of a life. It’s been a rocky road, indeed. You’ll hear all about her many lovers, her encounters with nearly everyone she ever admired and her challenges being a mother. At times you may be turning your head away slightly as the detail becomes thick and murky.


On several occasions, I found myself thinking ‘too much information!’ Comments regarding her oral gratification of her husband and how her daughter discovered her private parts were a little out of the scope of what I would expect. Like a bad lounge comic, I thought Shawn was reaching towards the outrageous just to make the book more credible, commercial or maybe just to keep our attention. It wasn’t necessary. There are much better details to ponder and digest here.

One part of her life story was quizzically missing. I always thought that Shawn had a very strong friendship with Mary Chapin Carpenter. Back in the 1990s, the two of them seemed inseparable like close sisters. Nearly nothing was mentioned here about Chapin. The only inclusion was a small picture of the two of them in the back of the book. Is this omission the one part of Shawn’s life she doesn’t want to talk about?

‘Diamond in the Rough’ is not a polished work of a great writer. It is a stream of consciousness journal of a very, very talented songstress.  I saw Shawn Colvin a couple of weeks ago at a beautiful venue in Connecticut. Performing is what she was meant to do and what she does best. Her shows are just as fresh and spell-bounding as she was when I first discovered her at the old Bottom Line back in 1988. If you love her work, you should read this book. If you want true insight into the soul of a struggling singer-songwriter, read this book. Shawn has simply handed us her life seen through her own eyes. It’s all right there. Accept the gift!    

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