Trisha Yearwood has ditched the drama in her personal life, but she can still channel those emotions in her music, especially on her new CD, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.
“There were a lot of years in my adult life in relationships that I needed drama,” she says. “If I didn’t feel something, whether it was horrible or amazing, it wasn’t any good. Thank goodness, you finally come to a place if you’re very lucky, that you go, ’That’s ridiculous. No more drama.’ But I do think that’s where the expressiveness comes into the songs.”
During a recent interview with CMT.com, she talked about getting over a heartbreak, her soft spot for small town farmers and why she’s singing better now than ever.
CMT: Was there a certain line in the song, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” that made you think, “This one’s a keeper”?
Trisha Yearwood: There are a lot of lines in there. I like, “The preacher says when your time is up, you take a chariot to the Lord/But I’m hoping my chariot is a torch-red Thunderbird Ford.” I like it because it talks about the good and the bad, together, that make you who are. You’ve got to get through all of it to hopefully end up at a place that’s good at the end.
I love the line in “This Is Me You’re Talking To” about the guy with the nervous smile because the vulnerable ones will get you every time. How do you find the balance between being self-confident and still willing to let down your guard?
We are all, all of those things. I love to find songs that make me feel more confident when I sing them, and I also love to find songs to commiserate with me when I feel vulnerable. … A lot of times I’m a narrator of a story that I’m not a character in. It’s great because, as an artist, I can say, “I’m a narrator. That song’s not really about me or anything I’ve experienced.” But you can’t [do that when you] sing a song where you say, “This is me you’re talking to. I’m the one whose heart you broke. I’m the one who knows you better than anybody. Let’s don’t pretend here.” That’s like, wow, in your face. You don’t get any more vulnerable than that. I love that. I think I have become a lot more comfortable in putting that out there, than saying, “This is about … her. This is her you’re talking to.” (laughs) It’s just not as in-your-face. I think this whole record is that way. I don’t think there’s anything that’s third-person on this record.
So, how do you get over a heartbreak?
You know, sometimes you never do. I think to myself now, thank goodness I am married to the love of my life [Garth Brooks] because I would never get over that one. There are some you just don’t get over. I’m lucky that, hopefully, I don’t have to get over him. I think though that, truly, when you’re hurting, when you hear a song that says, “I feel the same way you do,” it’s helpful. When I’m really depressed or sad or upset, I don’t want to hear the happy, boppy, life-is-great song to make me feel better. I want to hear somebody sing about, “I feel as horrible as you do.” I want someone to commiserate with me.
“Dreaming Fields” is about how rural life is dramatically changing now. Are you noticing those shifts in small towns when you’re touring?
Oh, absolutely, and I’m from a small town. This song was written by Matraca Berg, and she wrote this song about her grandparents. This was their story. I related on a personal life because my family comes from dairy farmers. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and when they passed away, it went to my uncle, who’s my mom’s brother. It was impossible to make a living and the debt is amazing. He was one of those farmers who sold his dairy cows to pay his debt and also to keep the price of milk high for the other farmers. But when they do that, they come and take your cows and take them to slaughter, and it was really hard. He went through a depression after that because it was really hard for him. And now that part of our lives is gone. … I grew up on a farm, but it wasn’t a working farm. My parents both had jobs, and we had cows and a garden, but we couldn’t have lived off that if we’d had to. I have a real soft spot in my heart for that, and I see it happening more and more.
You sing with a lot of strength and confidence on this album. Do you feel like your voice has changed since your early career or that maybe you’re learning how to use it better?
I think there’s a comfort level. I used to worry so much about it being pitch-perfect and over-thinking things. As a demo singer, you would go into a studio and you’d have a limited amount of time to sing your songs. You were getting paid $40 a song, you did your own harmonies, and you got work because you knew the song when you got there and you worked fast and cheap. And then when you go to make your album, and you’ve been waiting your entire life to make that first album, you think, “Oh, my gosh. This is an album and it has to be perfect.” As time passes, you learn how to do a better job, just like anything. “I know how to do this. This is what I do. Just go in and do what you do.” I think I’ve become less and less critical of my own work through the years. This album is my favorite, vocal-wise — this one and the last one actually — because I finally got to a place where I thought, “You know what? I know what to do.”