The morning after previewing her new album There’s More Where That Came From at the Ryman Auditorium, Lee Ann Womack visited with CMT.com about the music she enjoyed as a child, what she’s been listening to lately and why Buck Owens needs to get his act together.
CMT: Not a lot of kids see eye to eye with their parents about music, but it seems like you did. How did your dad’s love of country music influence you and this record?
Womack: Everything that you saw last night was because of the music he played for me when I was little. I think it had to do with being a Daddy’s girl and wanting to listen to what he did. It was a huge influence on me. I don’t know why I didn’t rebel, like in high school, but I never went through a period of time where I listened to rock music or anything. I listened to country music from the time I was little ’til now.
When people talk about music and mention Van Halen or Pink Floyd, do you kind of drop out of the conversation?
Oh, yeah, I couldn’t even … I don’t think people believe me sometimes. I think they think, “She’s just putting on. There’s no way she doesn’t know this song.” The only reason I knew how the song “Freebird” went was because my assistant has it as the ringer on her phone, and that’s the only way I even know what that song is.
A girl that works here is reading some book about U2 right now. I’m just lost when she starts talking about it. They’re supposed to be the biggest rock group of all time. I mean, in the last interview, the reporter said something about ’80s music, and I said, “You have to understand that ’80s music to me is Ricky Skaggs and George Strait.”
Do you remember the moment you discovered George Strait?
I was very much aware of him from the first record on, but my dad became aware of him with his third record, which had “Right or Wrong” on it. I remember my dad saying to me, “My gosh … this guy sounds like Tommy Duncan.” You know, I had been aware of him, but when he did that record, I just really, really fell in love with his music and his band and the stuff he was making.
Any there any songs from that era that you love the most?
Of Strait? Well, “Fool Hearted Memory,” which was on his second record, might be my favorite one he has ever done. I love his voice on that one. I think it’s Buddy Spicher playing the fiddle on that one, and I just love the imagery that it paints.
Are there any old country songs that you will hear and instantly think about growing up back in Jacksonville, Texas?
Glen Campbell takes me right back to my house, right back to my bedroom when my dad was playing it on 8-track. “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston.”
Is there an album that’s come out lately that you think maybe your fans would like?
I love Gretchen Wilson. She just knocks me out. I loved her before when I used to hear her on demos. If she was singing a demo, I swear I’d have to turn it off and go, “I can’t tell if it’s her or the song that I like so much.” She sings so well that she’s one that I love. I can’t really say her album, because I don’t have her album. I mean, I liked “Redneck Woman.” I thought that was fun and everything, but “When I Think About Cheatin’” was when I went, “Oh, my gosh, this is incredible.” I love her as a singer and as an artist.
Mindy Smith kiiiillls me. When her record came out, I was already familiar with her. I had taken her out on the road with me to sing harmony when I first heard her demos. She really was a big influence on me, and she was so unaffected by what was going on here in town commercially that it made me turn in a different direction. It made me go, “Yeah, I remember when I used to be like that.” It was a big inspiration for this project.
Melonie Cannon — love it. I love that record. When I heard that, I just thought, “How can this girl not be all over the radio?” Incredible.
I have to ask about the album cover. It’s so beautiful. Who came up with the idea for that?
It was [husband] Frank’s idea. I rely on him so much. I told him, “We’re getting ready to shoot the images and do the artwork for the album cover, and I don’t really know what direction I need to go in.” He said, “It needs to look like one of those records hanging on your wall in there.” I have Connie Smith, Jessi Colter, Dolly, Tammy, Loretta, Dottie West — all hanging on my wall in my office. He said it should just fit right in there with those.
Were those records that you just picked up or that you’ve had throughout your life?
Some of them I had, some of them I just saw the cover and I went, “Oh, my God. I love that!” I think when you hear “I May Hate Myself in the Morning,” you think about those records. It takes us back to when we used to listen to records that sounded like that.
Do you have a record player at your house?
I did not have one, but Frank gave me one for Christmas so I could play my record.
How often do you play your old records now?
Well, I haven’t had time really. I intend to. He gave me about 20 records, too. Old Don Williams and Glen Campbell. He puts a lot of thought into me.
Do you think it’s ever possible to complete a music collection?
No, because I’m constantly discovering new things and there’s just so much out there. I’m a big iTunes nut. I get on there sometimes when I can’t sleep, and everybody else is asleep. I start on there: Click. Oh! Click. Click. I’m just getting all this stuff. My biggest problem is getting it organized in my computer because one thing leads to another. I pull up Buddy Miller’s new stuff … and then you go, “Oh, yeah,” and type another name in. You sample it all and you go, “I want that,” and then that leads to something else. It’s dangerous, that thing.
Do you think Nashville is up to speed as far as downloading and the new technology?
I think they’re learning. I’m not that up on it, so I don’t know that I can really carry on a great conversation about it. I tell you one thing: I was disappointed when I was looking for some Buck Owens stuff and none of that’s on there. After that, I was out at Buck’s and I said something to him, and he said, “What?” His assistant said, “We’re not there yet.” I feel like I need to call them up and go, “Look, you need to get your stuff on there so people like my daughter can get turned on to it.”
Now that you’ve got this record done, what are you looking forward to the most?
Well, getting back out on the road. It’s always been hard for me to go on the road because I have the girls. It’s hard for me to leave them. But I got my mom a condo in town this year. She and my dad are going to come up and help with them. That’s really going to free my mind up a lot when I’m on the road to focus on the shows and the fans and not have to worry about them. I’ll know they’re so well taken care of. I think that’s what I’m most excited about for the rest of the year.