Carrie Underwood on the Ride of Her Life

New CD, Carnival Ride, Features "So Small"

Expect long lines for Carnival Ride, the new CD from Carrie Underwood, due Tuesday (Oct. 23). The follow-up to Some Hearts features her newest hit, “So Small,” one of four songs she co-wrote for the album. Here, she talks about new songs, good karma and knowing when it’s time to leave your comfort zone.

CMT: Several songs on the album are about figuring out what matters and finding balance in your life. Do you consider yourself a philosophical person?

Underwood: I’ve never really been one for philosophy, but I guess everybody has things in their life that they’d like to fix or something about themselves that they know they need to pay more attention to. Or basically just trying to enjoy life more. But, no, I don’t really consider myself a really thoughtful person. I mean, I have thoughts, but I don’t really have epiphanies.

You don’t stay up late at night wondering what this all means?

No, you probably won’t ever get into a deep conversation with me about too much. I’m too boyish for that.

In “You Won’t Find This,” you sing, “There’s once in a lifetime and once in a while/And the difference between them is a million miles.” What does that mean to you?

That is about a girl who says, no matter what you do, no matter who you’re with, it’s not going to be me. You’re always going to be empty because of it. There’s once in a lifetime, which would be the character. It’d be me. And there’s once in a while, which would be trying to fulfill your life with things like immediate gratification instead of finding what really makes you happy and could make you happy for the rest of your life.

What was it about that song that caught your ear?

The way it said, “You can do whatever you want, but you’re not gonna find this.” And that kinda sounds sassy if you say, “You can be with whoever you want. It’s not going to be me. She’s not going to be as good as me.” But it’s not saying it in a sassy way. It’s really matter-of-fact: “This is the way it is. We’re supposed to be together, and you’re never going to be happy.”

I like the line in “Wheel of the World” that says, “In the blink of an eye, it’ll break your heart and it never even slows down.”

It’s not saying it’s a good thing or bad thing. It’s saying that this is the way it is. It just doesn’t stop, ever, no matter what happens. The good times seem like they go by so fast. You can’t stop them during the good times, and you can’t make them speed up during the bad times. One minute you’re up, one minute you’re down, and that’s the way life is. It’s a wheel constantly spinning and turning, and you can’t stop it.

Would you like to slow it down or stop it every once in a while?

I don’t want to stop my carnival ride. I love what I do and the people I meet. I consider myself very, very blessed, and things go by so fast. I think sometimes people might feel sorry for me because it’s like, “Oh, are you going home for the holidays?” “Oh, I’m not really sure. I think I have to be in L.A. or something.” But that’s my life, and I love it. I love being busy, and I love the ride.

Do you believe in the saying, “What goes around comes around”?

I do believe in stuff like that. I believe in good karma. I think some people have good karma. I think I have good karma. It’s about treating people nicely and doing things in your life that give you good karma — so that you get what you give. There’s a saying in my sorority, “To receive much, you must give much.” That’s one of the truest statements I’ve ever seen, especially in this business. If you put your heart and soul into it, you’ll get it back.

Are you good at making quick decisions?

I think I’m good at making under pressure decisions. You do what you do, and sometimes there has to be some definitive OK. Yes or no. I think I’m good at that.

Is it easier for you now?

I’ve been doing what I do for about two years now, so I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I think at first, I was stumbling around, trying not to mess up, but now I am used to what I do — doing interviews, singing on stage and especially handling it when things go wrong. I think I’m a lot better at all that stuff.

You have a lot of songs about going into the world for the first time. What advice would you give someone who isn’t sure if they’re ready to leave their comfort zone?

There’s nothing wrong with comfort zones. If you leave it too early, it could have worse repercussions than staying in it. But there’s a point in your life when you know, “All right, it’s time for me to move on … or time for me do something different or time for me to grow up or whatever it is. There’s a time, and you know in your heart when that time is. … Or maybe take baby steps. Get out of your comfort zone a little bit. See how you feel about that. It depends on the person. You can either take the leap, or do it small, or you can stay in your comfort zone. Some people like that. They may not ever be ready. Just listen to your heart.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.