CLASSIC: Mary Chapin Carpenter “House of Cards”

It’s poetry.

“When you dreamed it was of the wind
Blowing cold and hard
In those dreams you thought you lived
In a house of cards”

The first two verses are about the past. “I grew up in a house like this … I grew up in a town like this.” After the third verse it all changes.

“When we dream it’s of the wind
Blowing cold and hard
When we wake up we still live
In a house of cards”

Things are bad and even though we wish for better, it’s still as bad as it was when we were kids. The wind will always blow. Only now it’s our house and, much as we want to, we can’t seem to change it.

I was working at CKON, a radio station on the Akwesasne reserve when this song was new, and I was drawn in by the amped up guitar and drums which at the time were still an experiment on country radio.

This song turned out to be the start of the end for Mary Chapin Carpenter’s mainstream country career, ironically. The third single from the Stones In the Road album, it stalled at #21 on Billboard. It popped up on the iPod yesterday and, for the first time in years, I gave it a listen. Then another, and another, and I wondered how many other truly exceptional songs get lost in the shuffle, and never gain the exposure they deserve.

(This was originally posted to my previous site Critically Country on September 22, 2013)