Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Peter Himmelman

Some artists are just so talented that it is always a source of frustration for their fans that they are not more well-known for their work. One such artist is singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman. I was lucky to see him the one and only time that he performed in Nashville (that I know of) and I still remember that as the best concert I've ever attended. (And I've seen both Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits!) I have no doubt that everyone who was in attendance still remembers that night as one of the more magical of shows. Sadly, his show at the Ace of Clubs was poorly attended, and I must admit that my ticket was a comp from the opening act's record company.

That concert dates back to 1994 and I only recently discarded the shirt that my friend, the club manager, later gave me. Oft-worn, so many girlfriends have wanted me to throw it away over the years, but I always resisted. That shirt, ultimately sleeveless, with ever-growing rips and tears, and survivor of who knows how many washings finally got to the point where even I couldn't justify wearing it around the house. I mourn its passing. And I search the internet for a replacement.

Anyway, Peter Himmelman continues to impress me with his thoughtful lyrics and profound observations. I just wish his talent could be appreciated on a larger scale. While he stays busy writing music for television shows and releasing a successful series of children's CDs, it's still his other more personal work that never fails to move me.

I typed his name into a news search engine tonight and learned through a touching piece by Willam Pesek that slain journalist Daniel Pearl was also a big fan of Himmelman and his work. I don't know why, but it's cool to me to think of Mr. Pearl listening to Skin or From Strength To Strength and closing his eyes while taking in the words and music just as I do. Or anxiously awaiting club doors to open while clutching a ticket in his hand just as I did that one awesome night in '94. It's not just that Daniel Pearl is a person of specific significance, but more that it's always nice to feel some connection with people who are moved by the same things.

If I could, I'd ask Mr. Pearl how he came to know Himmelman and his music. Did the opening track of Skin surprise him as much as it did me? Did Himmelman ever get a conga line going at any of the shows he caught as was the case at the one I attended?

Regardless, I'm glad to have come across such a nice mention of Peter Himmelman tonight. I'll reserve some time this evening to close my eyes and listen to his music. It's really fantastic stuff.

From William Pesek's article:
Danny and I met in the mid-1990s, when we worked in the same office. We weren't
the kind of friends who'd call one another at 4 a.m. amid a crisis; we were
buddies who would brainstorm on stories, swap bizarre travel tales and down a
few beers together here and there.
We first bonded over music -- a
Minneapolis musician named Peter Himmelman. We agreed he was greatest songwriter
virtually no one had heard of and we'd go to Himmelman's concerts together, once
making our way backstage to meet him. ... more>>

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