“I Take My Chances”
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter and Don Schlitz
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
July 1, 1994
Columbia takes their chances with an unprecedented seventh single from one album.
The Road to No. 1
Come On Come On was already double platinum by the time the album’s sixth single, “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” became Mary Chapin Carpenter’s first No. 1 hit. Six singles from a country album was nearly unprecedented, with Confederate Railroad pulling six releases from their 1992 self-titled album before Carpenter did the same. Columbia proceeded with a history-making seventh single, and it became Carpenter’s second consecutive No. 1 hit.
The No. 1
“I Take My Chances” is similar thematically to “I Feel Lucky,” with the wry storytelling of that earlier hit replaced with Carpenter’s wry observations of the world around her.
It’s the second verse that soars the highest, as she slices televangelism into ribbons with a few cutting lines: “He’d show me the way, according to him, in return for my personal check. I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette.” As she notes in the chorus that follows, “forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt.”
Beyond that verse, we get a vignette of her standing on a railroad track, facing down a train “just to see how my heart would react,” as well as a tinge of regret for living on the edge: “I’ve crossed lines of words and wire and both have cut me deep. I’ve been frozen out and I’ve been on fire, and the tears are mine to weep.”
Seven singles and three Female Vocalist trophies in, it was getting easy to take Carpenter’s very specific stew of intelligence and empathy for granted. God, I miss it now.
The Road From No. 1
One more No. 1 on is on deck, and it’s the lead single from another multi-platinum album. We’ll get to it in the fall of 1994.
“I Take My Chances” gets an A.
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