Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Video of the Week: Peter Himmelman’s “245th Peace Song”

Minnesota native Peter Himmelman has been kicking around on the fringes of polite society since the early 1980s when his band Sussman Lawrence released a pair of critically-acclaimed indie albums in 1980’s Hail To The Modern Hero! and 1984’s Pop City, which earned Himmelman not entirely unflattering comparisons to new wave icons like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. Sussman Lawrence evolved into the Peter Himmelman Band and recorded the 1986 album This Father’s Day, which earned Himmelman a major label deal on the strength of his intelligent, erudite songwriting skills and passionate lyrical delivery.

Island Records reissued This Father’s Day, as well as 1987’s Gematria and 1989’s Synesthesia before Himmelman jumped to 550/Epic Records for a number of albums, including what is probably his best-known and most acclaimed effort, 1994’s Skin. Himmelman has since released a bunch of well-received recordings like 1996’s Stage Diving on the indie Plump label and 1998’s Love Thinketh No Evil for Island’s Six Degrees imprint, as well as a number of acclaimed children’s albums. The singer/guitarist formed his own independent Himmasongs label to release his 2010 album The Mystery and the Hum and, in-between all this activity, somehow found time to compose music for TV shows like Bones and Judging Amy and movies like Snow In August and Heart of Dixie.

Despite his reasonably prolific output of music – I count a dozen or so studio albums in the past 20 years – Peter Himmelman is anything but a household name. Still, he persists, and his talents have shown no signs of diminishing after roughly 40 years in the game. Witness this video for his “245th Peace Song,” a stunning musical and lyrical tour de force that reminds of John Lennon’s plea for peace so long ago while sadly pointing out how far we still have to go, the heartfelt lyrics delivered with a personal perspective. The lead-off track from Himmelman’s upcoming There Is No Calamity album (due out on August 11th, 2017), the video for “245th Peace Song” was created by Peter’s son Isaac, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker.

Although Himmelman’s vocals do sound like a more sandpapered version of Elvis Costello’s singing style, they evince a gritty edge missing from the British rock icon’s music for decades. Partially inspired by the events in Ferguson, Missouri during the summer of 2014, the stark imagery gathered together for the song by Isaac Himmelman is perfectly matched with the song’s anti-racism, anti-violence message. The best singer/songwriter you’ve never heard of, “245th Peace Song” shows that Peter Himmelman is still creating challenging, entertaining, and thought-provoking music after all these years.

Buy the CD from Amazon.com: Peter Himmelman’s There Is No Calamity

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