Allison Moorer – It really puts you in that place
ND: Yeah. I was looking for a little relief after that song, which is sequenced in the middle of the album. Because of the melodic nature of how the next song, “When Will You Ever Come Down”, started, I thought I might get some, but the lyrics weren’t exactly upbeat.
AM: That song is just what the title says. When will you ever come down and wake up and get out of your self-induced fog and quit snorting Ritalin or whatever. (Laughs)
ND: There really isn’t much relief to be found anywhere on this album is there?
AM: Don’t give them what they want, give them what they need. (Laughs) This whole album is about losing faith. That’s the theme of the record — you can draw a line from track one to track eleven. It’s about what happens when you grow up and you finally realize it’s not really going to be OK, is it? You know, and it can be taken a number of ways, I think. Losing faith in yourself, another person, in God, in whatever you choose to apply it to. The feeling is much the same. Everybody struggles with it, whether they want to admit it or not. I know I do, anyway.
III. I CAN’T SAY THAT I HAVE EVER BEEN HOPELESS
ND: Even as you wrestle with these issues of faith, do you have hope?
AM: Yes I do. I can’t say that I have ever been hopeless. I mentioned earlier that I’ve been close but never have. Even then. The older I get, the more I think things are just kind of messed up and we’re just simply a marble spinning around.
I believe in God, I’m just not sure what God is, you know? I have to believe, because I see much beauty in the world and I see beauty in people and I think people are mostly good, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the faith part and what is my role in my own life, if you know what I mean.
But I’ve never been hopeless. Actually I’m really an upbeat kind of a gal. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go through my times of deep despair, but I don’t wallow in misery. That is the worst thing in the world for me and I can’t stand it. So writing and singing is a great release for me, and it feels good, which is why I do it.
ND: Speaking of misery, the song from the new album “One On The House” recalls the ghost of Merle Haggard for me. Maybe it’s the fact that the character in the song, who is very down, doesn’t try to manipulate or make excuses and is up-front with their intentions. They also seem conscious of trying to keep some dignity in spite of the plight they have found themselves in, like so many of Haggard’s characters of the walking dead. It adds extra tension or heartbreak to the song because you feel the character trying not to embarrass himself. To me that is very sad.
AM: It is sad, but I think there’s hope in that song because the person is saying I just need one more chance. Give me just one more chance, you know? I think that speaks for a lot of people.
ND: It seems to me on some of your material, if Merle heard it, he would sense a kindred spirit of sorts — which I’m not sure is necessarily a good thing because some of his stuff is quite harrowing. Are you a fan of his?
AM: Oh yeah! I grew up with Merle Haggard’s music, and there’s a tape of me when I guess I was about three years old because my father had one of those big reel-to-reel recorders and he used to tape Shelby [Lynne, her sister] and me singing. You can hear me sniffling on it because I was a sickly little kid. And we are singing “Silver Wings” and Daddy asks me when we finish, “Now who is that?” And I say “Merle Hagwood.” (Laughs)
But that music is deep in my bones. I couldn’t escape it if I tried — not that I want to, but it’s just there, and I still love Merle. I wanted to be Tammy Wynette, and when I made my first record, I wanted to do right by country music, but quickly found out that I had to figure out a way to try and survive, and the only way to do that was to evolve.
ND: I would think that some of Neil Young’s music had an effect on the way some of this album sounds. He’s also an artist that makes different kinds of albums but somehow stays true to the original spirit.
AM: I’m a huge Neil fan, and one of the things that I love about him, besides he’s obviously a great singer-songwriter, is that he remains relevant. He’s still doing it and still evolving as an artist. I think Silver & Gold is just an amazing record; he’s still making his voice heard, and that’s the kind of artist I want to be. I would like to be able to grow and do different things.
IV: THERE’S ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOVE
ND: It seems you really enjoy fronting a band, but in this town, most strong women who do that are marketed as divas. How have you resisted that sort of thing, and do you think it has hurt your career?
AM: I am so not a diva-esque kind of a person that it would be very false for me to try and pull that off. There are enough of those they don’t need me to do that. God bless those that do go that route, because it takes a whole different kind of talent.
I want to be part of a band; that’s where I get my juice. I want to be able to play guitar and hang in there with the guys, you know? I like to contribute other than just sing. There are some songs that I will sing alone, but you’ll never see me remove the microphone from the stand. I just like doing it that way.
ND: Maybe that’s part of the marketing concerns. The business is used to it.
AM: Well in the country world that may be true, but Chrissie Hynde does it! So does Sheryl Crow. In the rock world there are several, but I know what you mean. Nobody knows what to do with me because evidently I just don’t fit the mold.