Mary Chapin Carpenter grew up in Princeton, and has referred back to her childhood often in her songwriting — most obviously, perhaps, in the title track of her 1987 debut album, Hometown Girl, where she sang, “We’d ride all summer with the top rolled down/ Through the sleepy streets of that Jersey town.”
The title track of her 1994 album, Stones in the Road, is about the distance between cynical adulthood and the innocence of childhood. In the second verse, she zeroes in on a turning point: 1968, when the funeral train carrying assassinated senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy passed through Princeton on its way from New York to Washington, D.C., and she went with her father to watch it: “When I was 10, my father held me on his shoulders above the crowd/To see a train draped in mourning pass slowly through our town.” She also sings of the rioting in New Jersey and other states, at that time, “worlds removed” from her safe suburban existence.
Check out this powerful song, below.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.