One does not come to a Peter Cooper CD just for the friendly inviting folk-based music but also for the lyrics, which are just as much packed full of wry humor as witty observations and homespun warmth. Part of this comes from his impeccable influences—Mickey Newbury, John Prine, John Hartford, Tom T. Hall (around whom he wove a killer tribute along with long-time pard Eric Brace, and which, dammit!, failed to grab the Grammy it was nominated for and richly deserved), and several others, including bad-boy grinning japester Warren Zevon. In any of Cooper's releases, you can hear all of them and more besides—Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Stevenson, Mike Nesmith, Michael Johnathan, etc.—but you far more get a helluva lot of Peter.
As always, Cooper's accompanied by the irrepressible Lloyd Green on pedal steel, who illuminates territory all around Pete's guitar and vocals. Jenny Died at 25, my favorite track, is a really pleasant affecting cut very much in line with John Stewart's later work (and, man, losing that guy was a real blow!), smooth and wistful. It's companion, Grandma's Tattoo, is a hilarious but poignant follow-up, kinda resurrecting the Jenny who never really passed, even though the song says so (metaphorical, y'all!). You know these poet guys: they stretch the truth until it either yells at them to cut it the hell out or busts up laughing.
Part Time is an ode to the working man who just doesn't fit the capitalist slave mode and kinda always just followed his own sloppy muse and tatty guardian angel, someone I can very well sympathize with in this world of contradictions and nuisances impinging on all of us when we least want them to ("40 hours a week / Howling past my peak")…which is usually all the damn time. That's brought to heel by a review of missed opportunities and mundane misadventures that nonetheless end up in: 'I don't know what's wrong with me / But I feel great today' (Great Today). I'm hoping you can ask Cooper for a copy of the promo fold-over he and Brace sent out to we godlike critic sonsabitches (maybe if you ask reeeeeal nicely!) 'cause Eric's tribute to his bud is cool, but Peter's anecdotes on each song are priceless, extensions of the down-home Humanism of his songs, and I have little doubt that even Erasmus would chuckle and recognize this kindred spirit.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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