December 31, 2015
Carrie Newcomer —
A Conversation with Music

Something of a celebrity in Quaker circles, Carrie Newcomer is best known for her story-songs that get at the raw and redemptive edges of human reality. This week, a musical conversation with the Indiana-based and born folk singer-songwriter who’s been called a "prairie mystic." She writes and sings about the grittiness of hope and the ease of cynicism.

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is a singer-songwriter. Her albums include Betty’s Diner, The Gathering of Spirits, and A Permeable Life, which has an accompanying book of poetry and essays.

In the Room with Carrie Newcomer (Video)

You can watch, listen, and download all the songs and poems Carrie Newcomer recorded for us live. Enjoy and share them with others:
» "Betty's Diner"
» "Every Little Bit of It"
» "Bare to the Bone"
» "I Believe"
» "Three Gratitudes"
» "The Gathering of Spirits"
» "A Light in the Window"
» "If Not Now"

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What a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for enhancing our lives with these words and such beauty.

As I read this email whiling listening to Carrie Newcomer this Sunday morning, one holiday gift will be to give myself the time to enjoy these soul-filled postings more fully. With much gratitude and appreciation. Marian

Thank you Krista and Carrie for putting words to my unspoken thoughts and deep yearnings of my soul. I know the sweetness of these words will linger long enough for me to look for the wonder through out my Day and recount them before I sleep.

I smiled as you mentioned Carrie Underwoods work and said "It's embodied spirituality." Something so well needed in our un-embodied world. Embodying what we believe changes us and others.

Making Christmas caramels while listening this morning and felt so grateful to have people to make goodies for and for the goosebumbs I received several times while listening to this program.

Sunday morning soul-work
Advent,  2014  Nov30
(with gratitude to Krista Tippett and songwriter Carrie Newcomer) 

The poet called it gritty!
The nature of hope, she said, is its willingness
To hang in for the long haul; 
To cross thresholds of fear, disappointment, and regret and still persist in offering the world a kinder vision of itself.

Day after day, disappointment after disappointment, to stay the course.
This indeed is hope!

Yes, wishful thinking plays a part, but gritty hope demands a certain courage. 
A determination if you will that your hope counts. 
That it will not fall silent, that it too will make a difference,  as long as you stay faithful to possibilities not yet created.

This is the hope I strive for; a hope that clings to life for the sheer joy of it. A hope that will make something of itself ... 

and in that making, return to the world a light once lost;  now eternally viewable.

Perfect listening for a Sunday winter's morning. Thank you for sharing her beautiful spirit today, will definitely be looking for more of Carrie's music.

I have been inspired by by all the shows in the episode archive of On Being and revisit them often. This show has been the most spiritually uplifting of them all! Ms. Newcomer's humor, humanity and artistry are a gift to us all. My heartfelt thanks to her.

this is my haven

These reflections are fine and good. A little too indefinite about God, but OK. They do give rise to the question though, 'Where is the Cross'? I'm sure it's there, but it has to be spoken of.

I felt uplifted by this interview of Carrie Newcomer and it came on a day that is both filled with joy and also filled with darkness for me. So : THANK YOU CARRIE!

ED . . I can understand your confusion about the "G" word being absent from Carrie's songs and conversation, no matter how hard Christa tried to get her to say it. lol . It might help if I may paraphrase the Religious Society of Friends' founder George Fox's famous advice (undocumented though can be thought of as a parable.) to William Penn in late 1600's. William wore a sword as men of substance did back then. He was not sure he should be wearing a sword while saying he was a Quaker: When he asked George's thoughts on his wearing a sword he was told "Wear your sword (cross?) as long as you can."

While some Quaker Meetings (aka Friends) are demonstrably Christocentric, (Friends Evangelical Alliance and Friends United Meeting) others Meetings are not (though individuals may be so) (Friends General Conference). We all share the core belief that "There is that of G-D in every person." although many in the FGC Friends Meetings use other words for G-D as you heard Carrie use. I use "There is that of Light in every person." As Friends believe in direct revelation we do not as a group, quote from THE BIBLE although individuals may be led to do so. Instead of reading or memorizing the words written by others we are instructed to wait for messages to be revealed to us. This is one reason that Quaker Unprogrammed meetings are mostly silent. We are waiting to hear from the Spirit and to be so led. Read more about what Friends in SAYMA (Southern Appalachia) agree on at in our Guide to our Faith & Practice.

Thank you for this. There's something about the timbre of Ms. Newcomer's voice and her phrases that always make me sob. I don't think I've ever heard a rendition of "Betty's Diner" without weeping (so if I ever attend one of her performances, I should take care to sit in the back). For me, this is the opposite of easy listening: it's all at once reassuring and challenging and inspiring, seemingly evoking a powerful nostalgia for something that's maybe always been missing from my life. What is this yearning that tugs my heart out when I hear this woman play and sing her songs?

I was simply captivated, experiencing an NPR "driveway moment" for almost an hour listening to this wonderful interview via Sirius NPR Now. I'd never heard of the program "On Being" nor of Carrie Newcomer. I'm now a fan of both! Thanks for sharing these great insights on Thanksgiving weekend!

Thank you for presenting Carrie Newcomer. I have been a fan for many years.
The "Quaker Mystic" Carrie mentions meeting was Roy Joe Stuckey, the founder of the agriculture department at Wilmington College, a small Quaker institution in Ohio where my wife was Provost for 6+ years. She had a wonderful friendship, working on environmental projects with Roy Joe and his wife Ruth, a friendship that endured long after she had left the college. Two nicer and sweeter people you could never meet. His death came as a shock to us (we had just received their annual Christmas letter and update), despite his advanced age. And as Carrie said, Roy Joe would have never thought of himself as a mystic.

Carrie Newcomer: you are a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving celebration. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In this last episode with Carrie and in other episodes you have recognized the joys of singing together. I wander what an interview with Nahko Bear would be like. His concerts have become sing alongs.

Truly enjoyed listening and re-listening to this conversation with Miss Newcomer. Thank you.

This podcast, these songs, made my thanksgiving day!
They have become an important pause/portal in my day
and I imagine will be among my gratitudes for some time!

Thank You!

I love the words to that last song, because perhaps unconsciously, they echo the very famous words of Hillel the Elder (actually, the Old!) which go, more or less: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"
Indeed. Thanks.

I saw Carrie in Norman, Ok. this past January in a very small intimate setting. A wonderful two hours. Plus had a chance to talk with her after the show. Any of your listeners not familiar with her wonderful voice and fantastic lyrics should invest in few albums. I wish she came this way more often, I have many friends I would love to take to one of her shows!

Carrie's music is a treasure, a gift for connecting with yourself on an emotional and spiritual level, while being entertained and delighted. I put her on par with the great singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, Paul Simon and Tracy Chapman to name a few.

I want to like her music but after listening to the broadcast and the rebroadcast all I can say is she needs to write a second song. Everything she sings sounds like the same song. Boring melody once you hear it the first time.

Your interview with Carrie Newcomer is fabulous! I've been listening to the show for many years and this is one of your best. That is saying a lot since you have had so many great interviews. This reminds me of Holly Near and her song-talk focused on social justice. She was the keynote speaker at a Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in 2004 and I was blown away. Please consider adding Holly to your interviewee list.

This woman is an angel. This woman glows with Peace, Grace and gentleness without being imprecise or indefinite. This woman knows the heart of this world, she knows the love that will not die, and she has met mother-of-us-all in one of her dark nights of the soul. Yet, having felt the heartbreak of this world, she still sings. Carrie is an angel. Carrie has given us her open heart without holding back. Carrie is an angel. Thank You Quakers :)

Thanks for the introduction to Carrie. Your conversation enhances the balance between art and idea and whole-heartedness.

Carrie's sensitive, insightful and frequently humorous songs are a delight, and it's wonderful to hear her with Krista on On Being. I've been to her shows and they have the same intimate and warm character as this interview. Some time ago, I suggested that she would be just right for On Being. Thank you for introducing her to the NPR audience.

As an atheist, I'm shocked that I'm so in love with the On Being podcast and with this Carrie Newcomer podcast in particular. I love the idea of an embodied, human spirituality that manifests itself through kindness. We are working towards love, but I'm hoping the world can continue to shift to kindness and compassion--for others and for ourselves.

I listened to it twice. Her view of life is wonderful yet not unusual for a Krista guest. Her guitar, her notes, spoke in a much more powerful language for this listener. Good stuff!!!

Lying here listening in the dark, waking (too) early thanks to recent shoulder surgery, I couldn't have asked for a better way to start this New Year. Thank you to both Krista and Carrie for the perfect gift. I look forward to sharing it with those I love...

I listened to the rebroadcast of this episode this morning, before dawn, while I was making pasta. Last year's broadcast was my introduction to Carrie and her music. It immediately resonated with me, I became a huge fan, and have listened to her music ever since. As she played each song, I realized how much a part of my life they have become. I sang along every word of Betty's Diner. When I hear "I Believe", I think of our hospice patients. "Light in the Window" was playing in my car as I brought my dog to the vet at the end of his journey. And on, and on. The performance, just Carrie's voice and solo guitar, made me feel she was in my living room singing just for me. Carrie and Krista, you indeed are prophets, gently leading us toward the depth and light we all seek. I am sure I speak for many when I say thank you for responding to that call that you both must feel. You have divine gifts, and you make the choice to share them, which can be a difficult choice to make. I know you have enriched my life. And I know that's going to be some holy pasta!

AS ALWAYS, now for years, thank you. wonderful episode. i always listen to both the edited and unedited.

She is Beautyfull.

Perfect program for starting 2016! Thank you!

The clock radio went off this morning to the sound of Carrie Newcomer singing 'Light in the Window' on 'On Being.' Being suspended between trapezes -- following the loss of my job (indeed, my calling) and the end of my marriage (my choice, but still hard)-- and waking up to a reminder of the Light was such a gift to me this morning. That trapeze, or as you call it, that threshold, indeed is an opportunity... a gift of light. Thank you!

Have you ever experienced a threshold moment?

It is a transformative instance.

That moment when; water turns to ice, a plant sprouts from a seed, or when lightning strikes?

Usually we only experience the moment before and the effect but not the actual moment.

Keep your eyes open and celebrate the rarity of a "threshold moment" when you experience it.

Peace, Love and Happiness to all

After listening to the podcast of Krista's conversation with Carrie Newcomer, I tried to go to Carrie's website and request that she please, please bring her spirit and music to Burlington, Vermont. Carrie's website was unavailable and the error message said that it was either due to maintenance issues or capacity problems. I'm hoping the problem is one of capacity, and that simply too many people are trying to check out Carrie's music and message. What a wonderful problem that would be!

I was cleaning up the kitchen after my wife made a great meal to share together.
Then I turned up NPR and heard this Fabulous show that you had w/Carrie Newcomer.
What a sweet, great spirit that woman has.
Thank you for your interactions with her & introducing such talent to me & everyone else today.
I'm sending a few of those lovely songs to my wife, so that she can listen to them at work.
Beginning tonight, I started doing the _Three Gratitudes.

This episode is such a gift.
Thank you.
Graceful, peaceful, healing, warming....just like this show.
Thank you.

Beautiful hour with Carrie Newcomer. I just met her and her music a few months ago in Longview, WA and have been airing her tunes on KMUN in Astoria OR since then. It was lovely to hear Krista and Carrie together and all the good music entwined. Thank you so much!

Greetings from near Cambridge in the UK. I signed up to On Being a couple of months ago via Brain Pickings Weekly, another wonderful gathering of beautiful ideas and writings that I imagine everyone here knows about. I feel enormously grateful to have come across both.

This musical conversation between Carrie Newcomer and Krista Tippett is extraordinarily beautiful, restful, and provoking in a very positive way. I was particularly moved by the words and music about light and hope. I am currently writing a Masters dissertation on the subject of Hope and I feel more inspired in these moments than at any time in the last few months. Thank you to you both and to all the reflections here.

I have also been thinking (for about a year!) about visiting my local Quaker meeting house but haven't felt quite able to step over the threshold. I will now.

Thank you again
With best wishes

I came across this interview yesterday on the radio, and I was enjoying it so much, when I got home I sat in my vehicle while snowflakes fell all around me, to listen to it in its entirety. I also, looked it up today, so that my sister could listen to it as well. We had lunch together and listened to it again. I'm a new fan!

I have this interview saved on my iPod and listen to it frequently. Her voice is magical and so are her messages. A balm for the soul.

Though I am new to On Being, I feel like I have known the heart of the On Being message my entire life. I grew up going to church every Sunday. I sang in the choir. I was active in the youth group. My spirituality has always been about engaging with the world in active love. My faith has always been about asking deep questions, profound hope, and understanding that being a seeker is more about conversations and dialogue, than answers or certainty.

I listened to the conversation with Carrie Newcomer a few days ago. Carrie Newcomer is a singer songwriter from Indiana. She is a Quaker who believes, “music approaches the sacred through the wordless avenues of the heart.” For Newcomer, songwriting is an embodied spiritual practice. She recounts being inspired by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan. Though she is from Indiana, and I grew up on the Indiana side of the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky, I did not see Carrie Newcomer perform until I lived in Austin, Texas. I knew of her and trekked out to the Kerrville Folk Festival. I remember her open heart embracing everyone that was there that afternoon. I remember not knowing her lyrics but being swept up in every word she sang.

I felt like I knew her then, and the On Being interview provided another window into her soul. She sang several songs. She talked about finding better questions as a sacred act. She talked about how the ordinary can be sacred. She talked about simplicity, gratitude, and kindness. She talked about the courage it takes to rise above cynicism. At one point in the interview, the interviewer reminded her of a previous quote, “the source of all things is the first artist.” Artist as source resonated with the interviewer. What if we can see God as the universal artist? On Being inspires these questions.

This episode moved me as I drove home from work one morning in November of 2014. The song 'Every Little Bit of It' and the discussion following resonated with me, and thus began my journey back to a life of faith. Carrie's songwriting and vocals unearthed the fountains of tears within me, and helped me begin to find my way back. Thank you, Krista, Carrie, and most of all, Jesus.