A moment after our 2019 Tiny Desk Contest winner, Quinn Christopherson finished his first song at the NPR offices, he made a confession. He looked at me, while tuning his “Vintage White” Fender Telecaster, and said, “I don’t know if you know this, but when you called me and told me ‘you won!’ I got off the phone and thought, ‘dang, I should buy a guitar.’ Legit did not have one. But that’s Anchorage, that’s the music community there; everyone just borrowed me their stuff long-term.”
Quinn and his musical partner, guitarist and singer Nick Carpenter, arrived from the cool of Anchorage to the swelter of D.C. They both donned shorts at the desk; Quinn’s were newly cut-off to conform to the weather.
What was most striking about their performance was their unfettered confidence. Watching them play together and hearing their songs, with their interweaving guitar lines and vocal harmonies, feels like seeing two brothers performing old favorites. The concert was fun and, at moments, reverent.
After opening with his brand-new tune “You Told Me,” Quinn sang “Glenn,” a moving song about his father and their beautiful, two-peas-in-a pod relationship. There’s a line in that song that goes to the heart of Quinn’s songwriting talents: “My dad, he plays guitar, says he knows more than he can do. He tells me that I do more than I know.” Quinn writes story-songs about what he knows best, his mom and sister, about their addictions and his love for them. But on his Contest-winning song, the one that closes this Tiny Desk performance, he took a close look at himself. “Erase Me” is about his recent transition, what it now means to be a man and how he sees the way the world treats him differently after so many years of being “used to pulling the short stick” as a woman. It’s a revealing look at the roles of men and women in our culture at a pivotal time from a songwriter who, I believe, will be a defining voice in the future of music.
- “You Told Me”
- “Erase Me”
Quinn Christopherson: lead vocals, guitar; Nick Carpenter: vocals, guitar
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Jeremiah Rhodes, Bronson Arcuri; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Paul Georgoulis; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR