One Track Mind: Peter Himmelman, “Too Afraid to Lose” from The Boat That Carries Us (2014)

In time, Peter Himmelman moved away from specificity, and into something far more resonant as a songwriter. Diving deeper into the sense of mystery that makes every emotion open ended, he transformed from a very good composer into one of lasting import. By beginning with uncertainty and doubt — about where the song was headed, about where he himself was headed — he unlocked a place in his heart that gives his more recent song a new landscape of emotion.

“Too Afraid to Lose,” from his new crowd-funded project The Boat That Carries Us, is one of those songs, a sweeping triumph that ratifies everything he’s been trying for, even as it lays out the contours of this quest. It’s about valuing the known at the expense of the perhaps greater, fuller, more satisfying unknown.

Lifting off with a skipping riff, Himmelman’s searching narrative — about a couple that could have been more, a generation lost but fully aware, travelers without a true destination but driving as fast as hell — finds him at a full gallop creatively. It’s an enveloping world, one of deep thought and sweeping visual vistas — every element thrumming with raw feelings, vivid imagery and burning desire.

In this moment of personal revelation, of finally taking stock, there may in fact be few answers, but there’s still something of value in the moment: in realizing, at least, that there is something more. Himmelman has described ‘Too Afraid to Lose” as an attempt to understand the entire scope of life — in its fullness, but also in its want. Somewhere in between lies his inspiration, and his triumph here.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at