Singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin has had a 30 year career, but is best known for her 1997 hit, “Sunny Came Home,” which won Grammy Awards for Song and Record of the Year. Besides her own music, she has performed with James Taylor, Suzanne Vega, Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Ernie from “Sesame Street.”
Sound Observations From Shawn Colvin
by David Moye
Shawn Colvin is playing two nights at Anthology (Oct. 14-15) and she admits that playing two nights at the same club sometimes presents some challenges to the set list.
“I do like to switch things up,” she says. “I’m playing two nights there and while I know that not many people will come to both shows, but it will still feel like the same crowd. I think the shows will be 25 percent the same.”
But she’s quick to add: “I do take requests.”
Although it’s highly likely that Colvin won’t be allowed to leave the Anthology stage without playing her mid-90s Grammy-winning hit, “When Sunny Came Home,” she says that some fan requests do trip her up a little.
“People will ask for a song that I sang exactly once, like there’s a song I did for the ‘Runaway Bride’ soundtrack called ‘Never Saw Blue,’” she said. “People want to hear that, but I sang it exactly once – in the recording studio.”
But she’s quick to add: “I should learn it.”
Colvin does her share of soundtrack songs and says she usually hears them for the first time in the studio. Not that that’s a problem.
“I don’t require a lot of control,” she said. “I like spontaneity and even a little bit of pressure.”
She’s quick to add that her biggest hit came that way.
“’When Sunny Came Home’ was written in a hurry because it was the last song I needed for a recording session, so it works,” she said.
Back to the requests portion of her show: Colvin says she’s gotten all sorts of wacky suggestions, even the now cliché request to “play ‘Freebird’!”
For the record, that’s one request she’s never complied with.
“I never played that one, but I did try to play ‘Smoke On The Water’ once because that song was actually more popular in that era than ‘Freebird.’ I know that. I was in a lot of wedding bands during that era.”
This is an interesting time in Colvin’s life as she is currently working on her memoirs.
Although she is known as a very literary songwriter, she admits that long form writing took a bit of adjustment.
“Writing this memoir requires a different set of muscles,” she said. “When you’re a songwriter, you have to be a good editor. Every word has to count – even the most clichéd phrase like ‘I love you.’
“Now I’m being asked to expand everything and add more detail. You know, show, not tell.”
Still, Colvin is finding that the writing of the memoir is providing fuel for her music.
“Songwriting and book writing work together,” she said. “Writing the book has brought bits and memories to the forefront and I’m certain they will be part of the next record.”