When I started out, it was this sense of, "Let's put out a record and see what happens and see where you go and see how you feel and where we can take it." That was a very different world back then.
I certainly felt the desire to reach as many people as I could; I wanted to make the most of this opportunity, sure. But I wouldn't call it pressure the way we're thinking of it now.
In the late 80s, artists could be signed to labels and be nurtured. It wasn't, "We're going to give you one shot, and if you don't measure up, you're gone".
I think on a stage in front of thousands of people is a wildly invigorating and amazing experience, and it requires a certain skill set; then being in the studio, and being curled up in the fetal position under the piano, that requires another skill set.
I feel that it's nothing if not an incredible privilege to be able to get up on stage and play for people, and I don't ever take it for granted.
I think topical songwriting is a real gift, and it's hard not to be pedantic and show up with the sledgehammer message.
I love to write songs and sing them, and I didn't really know much more than that. Somehow it's gotten to the point where a friend can say, "It's very you," and that made me feel good.
I feel like politics have always informed what I do. If you know anything about my music, you know I've never been shy about stating how I vote.
Everything changes in every genre, whether it's pop, rock or country.
As far as politically how country music goes, it's true that it's regarded from a distance as a genre of music that at different times, the more right elements of the political spectrum have claimed for their own.
The bedrock thing of country music is, it's about storytelling. I feel like I was able to find a niche because I connected to that in some way.
I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I want to try it again and again, and a lot of times my fellow musicians have to hold me back and say, "Nah, I think we got it."
I feel like they're different creatures, live and in the studio, but that's what makes it so interesting to me. If they didn't have any different shadings or colors, you might as well be a hologram or something.
The joy of being in the studio is having people being utterly free to throw out their ideas.
I know some artists who come out of country music and the three sessions a day work ethic where you walk in, and you're told you play this note, this note, and this note, and you don't vary it. I know that works great for some people. It wouldn't work for me.
20-some years ago, I'd have a big old radio with a tape deck, and I'd hit record and try to get something down on the tape, but nowadays, I can use my handy little smart-phone; I sing into the app for voice memo.
I like to feel that every day or most days, I do a little bit of writing. I am a creature of habit in terms of the way I live.
It seemed inevitable to try to address my feelings about everything that had happened. To a certain degree, it felt cathartic, but it's less cathartic to me than it is illuminating and helping me navigate my own feelings.
I grew up listening to everything, and when I got signed to a record deal out of Nashville, that was my introduction to what was happening in country music.
I was really young, but I can't say that I wrote much of anything. I liked to scribble; I thought of it as that. But I was playing guitar and ukulele when I was in second grade.
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