Charlie Parr’s upcoming, self-titled album — whose track “Jubilee” is premiering exclusively below — represents a victory for the Minnesota singer-songwriter.
Last August Parr fell while skateboarding and shattered his shoulder, requiring plates and pins to fix. “It didn’t feel bad at the time,” Parr, who’d never suffered a serious physical trauma before, tells Billboard. Nevertheless, it required a five-hour surgery to repair, and even now Parr notes “there are still bits of [my shoulder] in there that aren’t attached to anything that the surgeon couldn’t do anything about. He was pretty skeptical about me being able to operate (the shoulder) normally, at least for a very long time.” That, of course, put the prospect of Parr playing guitar again in jeopardy, but he didn’t let the prognosis deter him.
“Eventually I was able to haul my guitar on my lap and play it lap style,” Parr recalls. “I think that was the thing that actually helped me get back to being able to play again. I was really, really distraught that this might threaten my ability to play, so I did (lap style) every day, and the surgeon says that may have been what sped my healing along because of that kind of constant exercise.”
He acknowledges getting back to playing gigs “before I was supposed to” and having to adapt his style to mitigate the pain, playing classical style with the guitar resting between his legs.
“Now I’m pretty much back to whatever normal is, I guess,” Parr says. “I’ve got a more limited range of motion in my shoulder, so I kind of play with the guitar resting a little bit ahead of I used to.”
Charlie Parr, due Sept. 27 in the U.S. following its Aug. 30 U.K. release on Red House Records, features four new songs and a number of older tunes that have been concert favorites — including “Jubilee” — that he decided to re-record in order to put back into circulation. “Some of the songs that are from those older times have never left my set list, and I’ve always felt like they were never done and there’s something left to do on them, because I’m always tinkering. I wanted to take another stab at them and see what they would sound like.”
The session took place in January — against doctor’s wishes — Parr admits. “As the day approached I was pretty nervous about trying to get through the whole day of sitting around the studio playing guitar, but it was fine,” he says. And with a number of concerts and festival appearances slated into the fall, he plans to mend and make music at the same time. “There’s always little adjustments to be made,” he notes. “Plus, I’m 52; You start to feel different because of that, and stuff I used to be able to do without thinking about too much I have to take a minute now. But I feel really good about where I’m at, so I’m just gonna keep going with it.”