7 Greatest Mary Chapin Carpenter Songs

Not all music has the kind of draw that Mary Chapin Carpenter songs do. Sure, she’s a country music singer, but her lyrics and sound have a pop-rock appeal that’s undeniable. 

Keep reading to learn more about Carpenter and her music as we discuss her seven greatest hits. 

Let’s go!

The Mary Chapin Carpenter Story

Mary Chapin Carpenter was born on February 21, 1958, in Princeton, New Jersey. She’s a singer-songwriter who has won five Grammy Awards during her 35-year musical career. Since unleashing her first album in 1987, Carpenter has released 16 studio and four compilation albums, plus 41 singles. 

Her most successful is her 1992 album Come On Come On. Seven of her singles from that album charted. In addition, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album quadruple platinum. 

#7 Let Me Into Your Heart

About the Song: This playful and flirty tune featuring brass instruments was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It reached #11 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. In addition, the Canada Country Tracks had it peaking at #5. Let Me Into Your Heart is a short number, not even three minutes long. 

Greatest Lyric:

I got a past baby, now who doesn't
I won't ask you to think that I wasn't
Who I was back then, yes it's true
But that was when I didn't know you

First Appearance: The tune was the first single from Carpenter’s A Place in the World album, released in 1996.

#6 Never Had It So Good

About the Song: Never Had It So Good is a song to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s ex. Like many breakup tunes, Carpenter speaks directly to him and reminds him how good he had it. There’s a twist though, does she sabotage her ex’s new relationship? 

Carpenter and John Jennings wrote the words and music. The track is just over four minutes long and reached #8 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. It also made it to #6 on the Canada Country Tracks. 

Greatest Lyric:

So you just go where you go
And do what you do
And be who you want to be
But when she burns you again
And your phone doesn't ring
Baby it's me

First Appearance: Never Had It So Good was the second single from Carpenter’s 1989 State of the Heart album

#5 Down at the Twist and Shout

About the Song: With fiddles and an energy you can’t deny, Down at the Twist and Shout is a number that makes you get up and dance. Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote this song and won a Grammy in the “Best Country Vocal Performance, Female” category. In addition, it peaked at #2 on Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. 

Carpenter and BeauSoleil performed the hit during the Super Bowl XXXI pregame. Alvin and the Chipmunks and American Aquarium also recorded versions of the track.

Greatest Lyric:

They gotta alligator stew and a crawfish pie
A Gulf storm blowin' into town tonight
Livin' on the Delta's quite a show

First Appearance: The hit was the third single from Carpenter’s 1999 Shooting Straight in the Dark album.

#4 Passionate Kisses

About the Song: The words point to a woman who wants a comfortable life with passionate kisses. It appears on Carpenter’s Come On Come On album and only hit #54 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it reached #4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. Carpenter also won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Greatest Lyric:

Is it too much to demand
I want a full house and a rock and roll band
Pens that won't run out of ink
And cool quiet and time to think
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have all of this, and
Passionate kisses

First Appearance: Lucinda Williams wrote and recorded it on her third album in 1988. Mary Chapin Carpenter covered it in 1993.

#3 I Feel Lucky

About the Song: This fun number tells the story of a woman who gets dire predictions, from a lousy horoscope to a voice from the sky. She ignores them and goes about her day. She ends up winning $11 million and then partying at a bar where Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam hit on her. 

Mary Chapin Carpenter and Don Schlitz Jr wrote this track that peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. 

Greatest Lyric:

The moral of this story, it's simple but it's true:
Hey, the stars might lie, but the numbers never do.
I feel lucky,
I feel lucky, yeah.
Hey Dwight, hey Lyle, boys, you don't have to fight.
Hot dog, I feel lucky tonight.

First Appearance: In May 1992, as the first single from Carpenter’s Come On Come On album.

#2 Shut Up and Kiss Me

About the Song: Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote this number, which features impressive piano playing by Benmont Tench, pianist for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. In addition, Trisha Yearwood provided backing vocals for the track. 

Shut Up and Kiss Me is her only #1 on Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks. It peaked at #90 on Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on Canada Country Tracks. Carpenter won the 1995 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for it. 

Greatest Lyric:

Talk is cheap and, baby, time's expensive
So why waste another minute more?
Life's too short to be so apprehensive
Love's as much the symptom, darlin', as the cure

First Appearance: Shut Up and Kiss Me was the first single from Carpenter’s Stones in the Road album, released in August 1994.

#1 He Thinks He’ll Keep Her

About the Song: A woman in her mid-thirties finds herself dissatisfied with her current life. She leaves it all behind, including her husband of 15 years. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Don Schlitz Jr wrote this 4:01 minute track. 

It reached #2 on Billboard Hot Country and was nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy Award. The tune spent an incredible 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country. Carpenter says a 1970s Geritol commercial inspired the title. In it, a man lists his wife’s “accomplishments and attributes” and says, “My wife…I think I’ll keep her.”

Greatest Lyric:

She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression upon her face
When she was thirty-six she met him at their door
She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore

First Appearance: The tune came out in 1993 as the sixth single from Carpenter’s Come On Come On album.

Which Mary Chapin Carpenter Song is Your Favorite?

The multiple award-winning Mary Chapin Carpenter has been prolific throughout her career, singing and writing songs of love, loss, and sassy women. What do you think? Do you agree with our list, or are there other songs we missed? 

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