With “The Baby” growing into a career hit, Blake Shelton recently called in from a business trip in Los Angeles to answer questions from curious CMT.com readers. Shelton, 26, talks about his blazing blue eyes, putting fresh eggs in his hair and sharing his Thanksgiving leftovers with his pet turkey. Shelton’s new album, The Dreamer, arrives in stores Tuesday (Feb. 4), but you can catch the Ada, Okla., native on MWL Star, debuting Monday (Feb. 3) at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.
1. Was “The Baby” based on your life story?
“The Baby” is based on the true story of Michael White and the relationship he had with his mother. He wrote the song [with Harley Allen]. As far as my life is concerned, it is true up until the part where the mother passes away. I am the baby of the family, and I moved away when I was 17, and I was away from home when I turned 21, and up until now it has paralleled my life. But the one thing that it teaches me, and hopefully everyone who hears the song, is not to take your family for granted, and try to at least stay in touch with them.
2. How do you get through “The Baby” without just tearing up?
I do not know if you can get through it without tearing up, but I feel a responsibility when I sing that song, or any song, to deliver it in a way that’s believable and emotional to people. You kind of have to step out of the song a little bit and sing it, I guess. I don’t know how to explain it. It is just something that I do and you have to hold your emotions in, to the point where you don’t cry.
3. Is that you and your family in the home movie footage in the home movie footage in “The Baby” video?
It is. Some of it is my actual footage and some of it is Peter Zavadil’s footage of his family, and he is the director of the video.
4. Are you wearing colored contacts in the video for “The Baby,” or are your eyes really that blue?
My eyes are blue, but they are not that blue. They did a green-screen thing behind me, like the weathermen use, and in the process of putting things into that, they turned it blue, which gave everything kind of a blue-ish tint and really made my eyes look ridiculously blue. I always make a joke that they transplanted Martina McBride ’s eyes and put them in my head.
5. What is some advice for a young guy who wants to do what you are doing?
The only real good advice I have is to move to Nashville and be prepared to be told “no” so many times that it makes you sick. Because that’s what is going to happen when you get there. People are gonna tell you you’re not good enough, or they’re not even gonna talk to you, period. It takes time and it takes patience, but the one thing I do know about this business is that it is not always based on talent. It is based on timing and luck and who you know.
6. Is there an up-and-coming musician that you would really like to work with?
I talked to Carolyn Dawn Johnson about doing a duet with her a few times, and we just haven’t gotten it done. We had planned on doing it for this album, and we just never got around to writing together. So, I will still say that I would like to be able to work with her as far as writing and maybe doing a song together.
7. Why in the world do you want to bring a turkey to the next country awards show?
It’s because I feel a responsibility to my pet turkey, Turkey, to expose him to some different things in the world. Up until this point, he’s been to Arkansas one time. He has been to Oklahoma, which is where he was born, and now he lives in Tennessee. So, I feel like, without me, he doesn’t get to do things, and I feel a responsibility to show him the world.
8. Can you tell us one story that you never got to tell people that you always wanted to?
You know about my pet turkey. I went outside one day and I had a bunch of table scraps laying around the kitchen after Thanksgiving, and I threw them out in the yard. And I looked out the window and I saw my pet turkey actually eating some turkey! I got a big kick out of that.
9. If you wrote your biography, what would be the title?
The Real B.S.
10. How did you propose to your girlfriend, and what happened when you did?
I asked her to marry me and she said yes and it was early one morning back in December, and we ended up spending the day with some friends and kind of having a party all day and had a good time. … I got in from hunting that morning, and asked her to marry me, and we went back out hunting.
11. My 9-year-old son wants to know why Blake chooses to keep his hair long while so many other artists keep theirs short? My son also has long hair and is very proud of it.
I choose to keep my hair long because it has been long since I was 12 years old. It doesn’t matter to me what other people do with their hair, and I do not think they are interested in how I wear my hair. Basically, it has gotten to the point where it is just a matter of pride. And I know it looks like crap, but it is just more fun to me to irritate people than cut my hair to satisfy them.
12: Were you ever criticized for having long hair and being a country singer?
Every day of my life. And my answer is that you ought to call Willie Nelson up and tell him that it is not cool to have long hair.
13. Is your hair naturally curly?
Yeah. The questions get easier! This is good.
14. What kind of shampoo do you use?
You know, I am raising chickens now, and I have started going out to the barn, or when I am out on the road, I will go buy some eggs, and I use an egg mixture with ketchup, believe it or not. I will soak my hair in that once a week for about an hour. Other than that I just wash it in regular shampoo.
15. What are your biggest pet peeves?
Questions about my hair!
16. Are you related to Ricky Van Shelton?
Ricky Van Shelton is my father. (laughs) No, I’m not related to him, but that is probably the number one question I get out on the road, and in interviews and stuff, if I am related to him. And I have never even met the guy.
17. I have been to many of your concerts, and I wondered what do you do before you go on stage?
Every night before I step out, I will mix myself a vodka and tonic and drink it. Then I stick my gum on the back of the neck of my guitar. If you ever come to one of my shows and if I turn around, you can look on the back of my guitar and I promise you, you will see a big wad of gum there.
18. What would you be doing today if you weren’t a country singer?
I would probably be homeless because I do not know anything else that I would want to do with my life. I don’t know. I would probably be in trouble somewhere because it was the only thing that I was interested in, and if I wasn’t doing music, I was just goofing off. And there’s nothing but trouble that can come from somebody who has no ambition and nothing they want to do with their life.
19. Do you ever miss out on anything you really love to do while you are out on tour?
Yeah, I miss being able to go hunting and fishing, which is my favorite thing to do besides music. I like to go out and be outdoors. … It is just my favorite place to be. I didn’t grow up playing video games. I grew up catching crawdads in the creek and minnows and lizards and snakes. And still to this day, I like to go out and just be in the woods.
20. What does your answering machine say? Do you sing your message like you do in “Austin” or do you just talk on it?
[My fiancée] Kaynette is actually on my voice mail, and it is her announcing my name, much as Ed McMahon did with Johnny Carson years ago. And that is all it is. It does not say, “Leave a message.” It says, “Blaaaaaaake Sheeeeeeeeeelton!” That’s it.