What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect?
One clear and lovely day in the spring of 1995, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from the Quaker school, where I had just been hired to serve as a music teacher, to the midtown Manhattan apartment I was sharing with two friends. For some reason, rather than admire the view or avoid the traffic, I spent the entire walk with my nose buried in a novel, A Map of the World, by Jane Hamilton. By the time I got home, I had a new clarity that I needed to write everyday. It was not the first great book I had read by any means, and I was already a fledgling songwriter myself, but there was something about the power of Hamilton’s prose and storytelling that brought new urgency—even the prospect of pleasure—to my own writing habit.
That day, I started a journal for the first time. Since then, I keep notebooks of observations and stories from my daily life, and most of my song lyrics have sprung directly from these books. I still write all the time, but most of my writing these days is on a laptop (rather than in a notebook) and takes the form of a blog post or a facebook paragraph instead of a private reflection. Such is the life of an independent artist trying to break through the noise with her new album! (And a mother of two young boys.) But someday soon, I will find a way to spend more time with a pen and my thoughts.
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jen Chapin is the daughter of Harry Chapin, who knew a thing or two about writing songs. Her intimate new album, Reckoning, is her first disc of original songs in seven years. She figures to play a generous selection of tunes from it at Germano’s, where she’s playing with her trio Thursday night.