Peter Himmelman is a singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter. I know: That’s sort of a cliche and a term thrown around all too freely. But for Peter, it’s a truth. He’s an experienced troubadour who has managed to successfully cross the digital bridge to the great new media divide by expanding in all areas of his imagination and creativity. Many musicians I meet are walking around trying to figure out what to do now that the music business has sort of gone to shit, but not Peter. Quite simply, he’s always been just talented beyond most mortals. Since his 1986 debut, continuing with his fantastic releases on Epic Records throughout the 90’s and then post-majorlabeldom, he’s always made great records filled with something to say, excellent playing and lasting musical and spiritual impact. I say spiritual because many folks look to music to get them throug good times, bad times and in between times, and throughout his work Peter’s lyrics (not too many “baby, baby, I love you’s) have always touched on a variety of different matters of the human condition.
I first met Peter back when he released his now classic Strength To Strength in 1991. At the time I was producing the the show World Cafe and he came by to perform and do an interview with Cafe host David Dye. I was in mad love with that record, especially the songs “Impermanent Things” and “Woman With The Stength of 10,000 Men,” which today remain a couple of my favorite songs of his. While I knew the words to 10,000 Men I never really knew what it was about until he told the story that was based on an encounter he had with an ALS survivor who could communicate only with her eyebrows. All of sudden Himmelman’s music came in to clear focus for me. I know that his many fans feel the same; that Peter has this incredible talent to turn specific experiences into broader stories, applicable to many real world kinds of situations. There’s a universality and empathy to his work that has always been and continues to be at the center of his songs and his message.
Like the greatest artists & musicians, life post-major label deal became a period of intense introspection and creativity for Peter. He came out on the other side doing TV and film (his latest is Scoundrels on ABC). He’s released award winning kids records, and has rocked it out as a successful visual artist. And for the last couple years, Himmelman has been rocking it up with his band merry mirthmakers as the host of Furious World a weekly live web show (disclosure: I have been a guest) that’s always entertaining and sometimes serious and sometimes ridiculously funny and he gets to keep his chops and interviewing skills sharp. Like Richard Thompson, John Haitt,& Joe Henry, Himmelman’s got a keen eye for detail and storytelling.
So – all this to say that Peter’s fans (and of course me) are absolutely stoked that his new album The Mystery And The Hum is coming out on September 14th on his own label, Himmasongs Records. It’ll be available digitally, on CD, on vinyl and I am trying to convince him to release it on cassette. Himmelman threatened to release this record for a couple years now, but he always told me “the time had to be right.” So I guess the time is right now. And a good thing for us (and you). Songs like “Raining Down From Satellite,” “Ever So Slightly,” and “The Heart Of The Midnight Sun” all shimmer with that special glow in an excellent collection of songs recorded in less than a month in a studio in his birthplace of Minnesota (did you know that Peter and Alexander O’Neal were once in a band together?).
Take a listen to this song and hopefully you’ll hear what I hear; Himmelman still powerful, still uplifting, still a songwriter in his prime. Unlike many of his peers who all sort of came up together in the early-90’s singer-songwriter signing boon and who are still pretty much making the same record, Himmelman is still in some fantastic place.
Download: This Lifeboat’s On Fire – Peter Himmelman