Peter Himmelman is a man of many talents and accomplishments who is known to those who have heard of him (but haven’t heard him) as Bob Dylan’s son-in-law. He has been playing in and with bands since sixth grade in the Minneapolis suburb of Saint Louis Park. He has released a dozen rock albums since 1986, the first half dozen on major corporate record labels, others on smaller indies, and still others self-released, but all of which have received love from critics and none of which have sold well. The only Billboard chart on which he has ever appeared is the Heatseekers chart, limited to artists who have never had an album in the Top 200. But the quality of his work has never flagged, and lately he has released some of his finest work, including Imperfect World (2005) and The Mystery and the Hum (2010). There is also an intentional oddity called Flimsy (2011), a collection of spoken-word songs ranging from the absurd to the heartbreaking. His new album, The Boat That Carries Us, now available on his own Himmelsongs label, is about motion, or being in motion, by air (“33K Feet”), by car (“Green Mexican Dreams”), or in spirit (“Angels Die”).
Rock stardom for Himmelman was a real possibility in the mid-1980s. Critics loved him for his unpredictable but riveting stage shows. And those of us who love to linger over well-crafted lyrics enjoyed Himmelman’s language of the heart, images of struggle and joy that are by turns imaginative, erotic, and transcendent without ever degenerating into pseudo-poetry or pretentious imagery. He came of age when the introduction of the compact disc had made the record companies flush; independent labels were scoring with new wave and rap; and megastars, including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Prince, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, and Billy Joel, made it an industry of not just million-sellers but ten-million sellers. But something happened to Peter Himmelman along the road to major label stardom. The gift of his talent and ambition was overshadowed by another, deeper gift: a Jewish spiritual awakening that coincided with the release of his first major album, This Father’s Day. The blues singer Robert Johnson, according to the myth, sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi Delta crossroads. Himmelman made another choice at a crossroads in his young life, when he was twenty-five.
Singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman is a pioneer of the Minneapolis post-punk scene, a composer for the TV show Bones . . . and according to his fans, one of the greatest songwriters virtually no one has heard of.
—Wall Street Journal
These songs won’t change your life, but their heartfelt delivery makes this Imperfect World a lot easier to live with.
Peter Himmelman rates right up there with Bob, Bruce, Elvis C., Warren Z. and the rest of the masters of smart rocking song craft.