Chart Beat Podcast: Mary Chapin Carpenter on New Album & 30-Plus Years of 'Tremendous Appreciation & Gratitude'

 Ethan Johns
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Carpenter muses about her country hits & new release, "Sometimes Just the Sky."

Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what's on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.

On the latest episode, Gary welcomes special guest Mary Chapin Carpenter, who has been a force on Billboard charts for nearly 30 years. The singer-songwriter has notched nine top 10s and a No. 1 on both Hot Country Songs and Top Country Albums, while adding four top 10s and a No. 1 on the Americana/Folk Albums chart.

Carpenter releases her new album, Sometimes Just the Sky, today (March 30), with the set offering reinterpretations of songs from throughout her catalog (one from each proper studio album), plus the newly written and recorded title cut.

"Someone on Twitter made the point of saying, it's been 30 years since my first record [in 1987]. That was the first time I thought about it," Carpenter says. "So, I was thinking, here's a chance to maybe make an album of covers, or outtakes ... just something to acknowledge the anniversary.

"My manager said, why don't we take one song from every album and rerecord it and put one new song on there, and casually release it. It was going to come out last summer.

"What ended up happening is, very quickly, after a few songs, we all felt that it was not as casual a project as we expected it to be. Every song was taking on a different kind of feeling from everything I'd done previously. We decided that we wanted to release it as a new record, because it did feel so different from the original recordings. It had its own life."

Says Carpenter of her career so far, "It's just hard to wrap my brain around. What goes along with that is tremendous appreciation and gratitude that I'm still able to be out here in the world playing music, touring and writing songs. This block of time has gone so quickly, that's how it feels."

Enjoy the latest Billboard Chart Beat Podcast and check back for additional upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!