Several years ago I wanted to record some songs that my husband and I had written in Nashville and New Haven, before I released “Time and the Weather” and “Easy Street” (as Callie Cardamon). “Easy Street” had brought me a tiny indie following as a standards singer, and I didn’t want to confuse listeners or DJs, so I created my alter-ego to sing these folky tunes. I’d grown up listening to 1970s pop and later became an intense Joni Mitchell and Neil Young fan, so that kind of music was natural to me. I had a powerful vision of a blonde woman named C.C. Grace who would sing these songs. I thought about her for years before I recorded anything, and I spent a lot of time trying on wigs and becoming her. At first it was just a fun game—creating a new identity—but C.C. soon took over my musical life.
In 2013 I released C.C.’s first album, “Fortunate Woman,” a collection of original songs, plus two classic country covers. Next up was a year-long meditation on Neil Young’s tunes for my 2015 tribute album “Cowgirl in the Sand.” Then in 2016 I started thinking about recording the songs I’d loved growing up, the ones that made me clutch my friends’ arms when they came on the radio and say, “I love this song!”
Those were the days when you couldn’t Google any song you wanted and listen to it immediately for free. It was a thrill, a tiny blessing from the universe, when “Cat’s in the Cradle” came on the radio while your dad was driving you to school, or when the first strains of “Time in a Bottle” became audible while you were talking to your best friend. You both had to stop talking until the song was over. Then, having been temporarily transported from this world, you could go back to your mundane discussion.
It’s hard to even imagine now how powerful it was to hear music before it was such an easy commodity. Music isn’t special—in that way—anymore, and that pains me. But in exchange, I have the entire world (almost) at my fingertips. I have to believe it’s a fair trade.
“So Far Away” is a collection of songs that meant a lot to me growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1970s. With the exception of “Margaritaville” (that has its own story!), these songs have traveled in and out of my soul for the past few decades, working their way deeply into my psyche. The best way for me to honor them is to inhabit them myself.
Thank you for listening. I write, sing, and record because music is a gift that must be opened. And shared.