TV and film have made blue-collar life a punchline and country music has turned it into a cartoon, but Peter Karp paints a different picture of blue-collar people and blue-collar living. The people he sings about aren't filled with the passion for dumbness celebrated and exhibited by certain comedians. They aren't awash in sophistication nor are they bereft of it. They find joy in the simple things but they're not simpletons. His great strength is in his ability to relate to these ordinary people and situations with wit and humor without talking down to anyone.
While wisdom, knowledge, truth, and fact are sometimes treated as synonyms in the imprecise usage of every day conversation, they are all quite different in the way they relate to one another. No test will ever accurately measure intelligence. It just can't be done. Take the chorus to the title track of Peter Karp's Shadows And Cracks, my 2007 Album Of The Year.
An old fool once cried to me,
'You got fat in them books of facts.'
Wild-eyed he whispered to me,
'All you need to know is in between the
shadows and the cracks.'
Maybe I'm splitting hairs, staring so hard at each word they're creating optical and literary illusions but it's an imaginative use of dissonance presented in a plainspoken tongue. Fool and wisdom might seem contradictory and they are but the implied age of this old fool makes it entirely possible for the man to have gained a little wisdom through his life's experiences. Then again he may not be wrong about being able to see between the shadows and the cracks, maybe he's foolish to dismiss the book of facts.
That's what makes Peter Karp so great to listen to and read. You have to read the fine print.