“Passionate Kisses” Sparked Two Country Grammys
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter

How do you celebrate the 20th anniversary of winning a Grammy? With some “Passionate Kisses,” of course.

Mary Chapin Carpenter scored a Top 5 hit with the smart, upbeat tune and landed the trophy in 1994 for best country female vocal performance. Lucinda Williams, who wrote “Passionate Kisses” and included it on her landmark 1988 self-titled album, took home the statuette for best country song.

Today, both artists are still going strong. Carpenter will release an elegant new album, Songs From the Movie, on Tuesday (Jan. 14). She partnered with conductor Vince Mendoza to set 10 of her most imaginative compositions to orchestral scores.

Williams returns on Tuesday as well with a reissue of her 1988 project, along with a bonus disc of live recordings from that era. In the deluxe packaging, Carpenter is quoted as saying, “Lucinda Williams is my hero!”

One of the most acclaimed country artists of the 1990s, Carpenter has won Grammys for the hits “Down at the Twist and Shout,” “I Feel Lucky” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me.” Her exceptional 1994 album, Stones in the Road, collected the award for best country album.

Williams has made room on her mantle for a couple more Grammys, too. Now considered an Americana classic, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road picked up the best contemporary folk album for 1998, while “Get Right With God” received the trophy for best female rock vocal performance three years later.

Listening to “Passionate Kisses” now, I realize that the idea of a full house and a rock ‘n’ roll band really isn’t my cup of tea, but as a writer, I still like the line about “Pens that won’t run out of ink/And cool quiet/And time to think.”

I’ve never thought of the list-oriented lyrics as making demands on someone. To me, it’s more like a personal pep talk, because it’s OK to set high expectations for yourself.

In other words, yes, you should have all of this — and “Passionate Kisses.”

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