Watch a brand new, exclusive interview with one of music’s true superstars when Shania Twain: CMT Insider Special Edition debuts Friday (Nov. 5) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
In the second excerpt of this two-part interview with CMT Insider host Katie Cook, Shania Twain talks more about her relationship with husband and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange and why the made-for-TV movie based on her life story won’t be right.
CMT: I heard one of the new songs, “Don’t,” for the first time last night. I’m not ashamed to say I actually got very choked up listening to the lyric.
Twain: Oh, good. I’m glad to hear it.
What inspired you to write this?
Mutt had this title, “Don’t,” for a long, long time, and we toyed around with it a lot. We had this melody also for a long time with no lyrics to it, and “don’t” just fit right in there. We went back and forth thinking, “Well, it’s a negative.” [The word] “don’t” is such a negative thing, and I like to write about positive things. How can we make this positive? So we toyed over that for a long time and ended up with “don’t give up on us.” The way Mutt describes it is you want to be driving in your car after having an argument with the person that you love, whether it was that morning or the month before or whatever. Whether it’s with your mother, whoever that relationship might be with. This song comes on the radio and you realize, “Wow, I think I messed something up. I’ve got to call this person and say ‘sorry’ and try to turn them around and get them to forgive me, and we’ve got to work this out.” We wanted it to prompt that. We wanted it to prompt making up and encourage forgiveness and all that.
“I Ain’t No Quitter” is straight-up country. This looks like one that would have written itself fast, too.
It did. It was really fun to write this one. & I had this idea about writing about a guy who had all these terrible habits and wasn’t going to change for her. I mean, he’s not a quitter. He’s not quitting smoking. He’s not quitting drinking. He’s not quitting anything. But she’s not giving up on him, either. So you’ve got these really two hardheaded people. I wanted to make it into a very positive can-do song. & You know, opposites attract kind-of-thing.
Is that something you guys relate to, maybe?
We’re not that opposite, Mutt and I. We are in some ways, but the ways that we are opposite, we complement each other, thankfully. That’s what makes it work. Otherwise, obviously we’d be arguing all the time. But we don’t, because we end up appreciating and respecting the differences that we have. On the other hand, we have a lot of things that are in common. So it’s not completely us, but we can relate to it.
I want to reflect a little bit and talk specifically about songwriting. I think your lyrics are really accessible. Everybody can really connect with them. But I want to see how you connect to your own lyrics. Let’s start with “Don’t Be Stupid.” Talk about jealousy. Do you find yourself being a jealous person?
No, not particularly. Neither Mutt or I are particularly jealous. “Don’t Be Stupid” is something I would say on a daily basis. “Don’t be silly, don’t be stupid” about whatever. “That’s nonsense.” So it was a phrase I would say, and I thought it really does apply to trying to tell somebody, “Don’t be stupid. Get over it. Don’t be jealous.”
I love the end of “I’m Outta Here” because you’ve got like your feet stomping and the door slams. What gets you mad enough to do something like that?
In relationships, I’m not very tolerant with certain things.
Well & if I had a boyfriend who cheated, for instance, that would be that. That would be the end of that. Any disrespect, forget it. I don’t tolerate anything like that. (laughs) You know, treat me with respect. I’m very liberated in that sense. As far as from a female point of view, I would say that when it comes to relationships, I’m pretty serious about what I tolerate and what I don’t.
What about “I’m Gonna Get You Good”? The woman in this song is very driven, very focused on her man. & But career-wise, is there anything you still really want to get? Something where you’ve still got your eyes on the goal?
I do have a lot of goals. Musically, I don’t have a big-picture goal. I never did, to be honest with you. They just come as they come. & It’s always been a dream of mine to have other people record my music.
Do you see yourself at a point where you may start pitching a lot of your songs to other artists?
I will. I will do that. (laughs) I would have started doing that a long time ago, but everyone around me said, “No, you can’t do that. You’ve got to record this stuff. You can’t just give it away.” I have to say, I long for that. I long to be able to & listen to other people singing my music, performing my music. That’s a bit of a dream of mine. It’s a goal. I’d like to be able to manage that at some point, if everybody allows me to. If anybody allows me to.
They’re making a TV movie about your life in Canada. Is that strange for you?
Yeah, it’s a little odd.
Are you involved at all?
That can be a good or bad thing, right? I mean it must be strange to watch something like that. I mean, I hope they get it right.
They’re not gonna get it right. (laughs) I’ll tell you why: because they don’t know everything. That’s why they can’t get it right. They can’t possibly get it right because they don’t know me. They don’t know me well enough. & If you’re going to make the story of someone’s life, you’ve got to really know them. And I’m too private of a person. They’ll never know me. I’d have to do it myself really, and I don’t know if I will ever do that. Because in order to get to know any one particular person really well, you have to get to know everybody else around them as well. & How can you do that? Anytime you ever read a memoir or any kind of autobiography that’s really true to the bone, you’ve had to expose everybody that you know. & If you’re leaving all those things out, you’re really not getting the full picture. In order for them to make some kind of complete picture & maybe they’ll have to make some of it up or just not make it quite complete. Maybe they’ll get it. I don’t know. I’ll be interested to watch it.
I’m sure when you got into the business and started making it, the last thing you really wanted to talk about over and over again was your parents dying. But that has been such a big part of your life. It’s very inspiring to see somebody go through something that difficult and come out so successful and so driven and so happy in their life. Do you feel like that has been a large part of what has endeared you to people?
When my parents first died, I wanted to quit, to be honest with you, because I didn’t really see any point in going on. In a sense, I was pursuing a career as a singer to please my parents, because I knew it was their dream. My dream was always in music but not to be the front person. I became that through my mother. I had to support the kids. I had to get a steady job. I had every reason to quit music. The fact that I continued is quite a miracle, and the fact that I actually succeeded is even a bigger miracle. But I think that, yes, through hardship you do gain strength, somehow, underneath it all. If you survive it, then you end up with an incredible strength. And I guess probably that is what happened in the end.