A new breed: Peter Case at DePauw


Greencastle has seen conservationists, Army veterans, poets and Pulitzer Prize winners. Former presidents, prime ministers and professional athletes have all been featured. Entrepreneurs, activists and filmmakers have all stopped by.
One breed, however, isn't always on the lecture lineup: singer/songwriters. They're an eclectic blend of dynamic delivery, impactful poetry and outstanding stage presence. The ones who dissect the daily plagues of our lives and produce engrossing audio representations. All while keeping cool along the way.
Peter Case is no exception.
"I was the only kid bringing a guitar to school," Case coolly recalled with students at a songwriting workshop late Tuesday evening.
The three-time Grammy nominee has made his way to the town of 10,331 people as a guest of the Performing Art Series this week. Case jam-packed his time here, bouncing between small talks, student workshops and preparing for his Thursday night concert.
Case's outings on campus have been both informative and colloquial. At the student songwriting workshop on Tuesday evening, Case sorted through a variety of interesting tidbits. He reminisced about his friend's life-changing Woodstock weekend of 1969. He toggled between stories about drinking with Elvis Costello, harmonizing scales and The White Stripes. Waiting for the "big call," Ralph Waldo Emerson and major record labels found their way into discussion.
Though Case refrained from talking much about himself, he did ease into his three steps to songwriting. These three steps helped him succeed with two of his groundbreaking New Wave bands: The Nerves and The Plimsouls. These three steps also helped him open up for the likes of R.E.M, Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt.
Get to know your feelings. Adequately express your feelings. Work hard at it.
Seems simple, but is undoubtedly tough. Especially for Case, who admitted, "I feel everything all the time." It is an aspect of the everlasting cycle of a singer/songwriter that takes years to craft. They death march from one line to another, trying to piece together something worthwhile.
"Every song word can either open up a song or close it down," Case said.
Case has had his fair share of success at songwriting, though. Within a surplus of bands, such as Mustache Sandwich, Pig Nation, and the previously stated The Nerves and The Plimsouls, Case has produced quality tracks. This started much sooner, though, in his teenager years of the 1970s. Born in New York, Case voyaged across the country to the streets of San Francisco, where he performed. After two years of pocket change and bouncing around, Case settled with The Nerves. Two years later, he started The Plimsouls, who saw success after their hit "A Million Miles Away" was picked up by the movie "Valley Girl." Case claimed in one student songwriting workshop that Blondie's tune "Hanging On A Telephone" was an altered Plimsouls original.
It has been the same old song and dance ever since for Case, who continues to tour across the country over 100 days out of the year. He swung through Australia this past April for a week's worth of gigs. No matter where he ends up, though, there is one thing fans can count on: authentic tunes taken straight from the soul.