What's in a Song? 'Twilight'

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On this edition of What's in a Song, singer Mary Chapin Carpenter talks about her song "Twilight." It's an in-between time of the day with special meaning for her.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.

Twilight, that moment at the end of the day when the sun has just set and the stars are about to rise, it's the inspiration for this week's What's in a Song, our occasional series from the Western Folklife Center about one song and its story.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER (Singer): My name is Mary Chapin Carpenter, and I was named after both my father and my mother. Chaplin comes from my father - that's his first name that was my grandfather's first name, so I'm named after both of them.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) The sun's going down past the pines. Shadows grow long down the hill. Follow the path known by heart, down to the wide-open fields.

This song came about after one of those magic walks that you take during what I've heard my mother called the magic time.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) Twilight.

The light in the sky turns just the warmest color, orange, or even red, and then there's, you know, certain blue hues, and it's just an extraordinarily beautiful time of evening.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) The morning mist burned off by noon. The dogs never moved from the shade. The mountains were bluer than blue.

We lived up on a big hill overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. And my husband and I like to get all the dogs - there's five of them - and actually the cats liked to come along as well. It's a bit of a Pied Piper situation. And we walk down the hill into this big, big pasture field meadow, and its bordered by a river. And the peace and the sense of calm that just automatically overtakes us makes me feel so happy, I don't how else to describe it.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) You and me. You and me.

It was like I was chanting a mantra - you and me, you and me. I was really just telling the feeling of closeness that I feel with my husband when we're able to just be together without having to say anything.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) You and me. Now we'll be led by eventide's hand. 'Til then we'll walk through the gloaming, back on up the hill once again, done with another day's roaming. Now that it's twilight.

I think people are soothed by this song. The song addresses the importance and sort of sacredness of home. And also, the time of day, of course, which where the title comes from, we all look for that restful time. We treasure it and it doesn't last long, you know, it's - it comes and then it's gone. And it's that in-between time that's very special.

(Soundbite of song "Twilight")

Ms. CARPENTER: (Singing) Magical twilight. Twilight.

ROBERTS: What's in a Song is produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis of the Western Folklife Center. Our feature, What's in a Song, is produced by the Western Folklife Center with support from the R. Harold Burton Foundation.

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