Wheeler still has edge

  • By Sharon Wootton / Special to The Herald
  • Thursday, April 7, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Cheryl Wheeler was spitting mad, with most of her ire directed at a particular segment of the political spectrum. The television was probably lucky to have survived the tempest.

The singer-songwriter has mellowed in some aspects of her life, but fear not: The edge is still there.

Wheeler is touring with her new album, “Defying Gravity.” She performs tonight in Shoreline. Her last studio album was in 1999.

“I don’t write as much as I used to. I’m pickier about what I’m willing to consider is song fodder. In your 20s, angst strikes you as being noteworthy; in your 50s, it doesn’t. If I’m just whining about something, I’m not going to give into that.”

Wheeler is finding that getting older is a character-builder.

“You certainly can’t depend on being hot … and then you find out that it doesn’t matter anymore,” Wheeler said.

Life is on a continuum, and she has little patience for songs that lament things not being the way they were.

“That’s the stupidest thing to say. Things aren’t meant to stay the same way. We’re suppose to find something different and more meaningful than hubba-hubba,” Wheeler said.

“I feel like my life is incredibly deep and beautiful. I’ve seen enough of the world to know that there are people who really have something to complain about.”

So who’s Cheryl Wheeler these days?

“She’s a raving lunatic when she turns on the news. I give my finger to the TV 25 times a day. I’m so frustrated with the tone of our government, with having hatred in the name of the Almighty,” Wheeler said.

It’s not that she manages to keep her sense of humor in spite of events, Wheeler said.

“Humor keeps me. Life is hilarious. Once I get over how furious I feel, then the funny stuff strikes me.”

Thus “It’s the Phone,” with a medley of classical pieces over which Wheeler relates her feelings about cell phones, and how pieces by Beethoven and Bach have been reduced to cell-phone rings.

But Wheeler’s strength is storytelling, as she exhibits again in “Alice,” about an older woman who worked at the East Bay Hotel in Grand Marais, Minn.

“When she said, ‘The more I travel the more I want to see,’ my eyes went three feet out from my head. The next day, on the plane home, I started writing it.

“I was very moved by her, how much she so loved life,” Wheeler said.

This is an album that, five years ago, Wheeler couldn’t have put together.

“I’d gone through a big breakup but now I’m happily married and life is wonderful in Massachusetts with my partner, Kathleen.

Don’t expect Wheeler to hang up her guitar in a mellow moment.

“I have to make money. This is what I do. It’s the same driving force that makes me take the dogs for a walk. And it’s what I want.”

Wheeler’s fans, who have lived through some early mood swings with her, will be happy she’s happy but still with an edge.

Cheryl Wheeler performs tonight in Shoreline.

Cheryl Wheeler

7:30 tonight, Shoreline Unitarian Church, 14724 First Ave. NE, Shoreline; $18, $20, children half-price; 206-528-8523.

Cheryl Wheeler

7:30 tonight, Shoreline Unitarian Church, 14724 First Ave. NE, Shoreline; $18, $20, children half-price; 206-528-8523.

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