Martina McBride, Train Compare Notes on CMT Crossroads

They'll Share the Stage for "Hey Soul Sister, "Independence Day" and Other Hits

Editor’s note: CMT Crossroads: Train and Martina McBride premieres Saturday (Nov. 20) at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard Train’s “Hey Soul Sister”? After being released in October 2009, it seemed to be everywhere by the time the new year rolled around.

It’s one of the songs they’ll perform with Martina McBride during a new episode of CMT Crossroads.

It marks McBride’s second appearance on the concert series, having been paired Pat Benatar in 2003.

Prior to the recent taping in Nashville, CMT Insider producer Tim Hardiman talked to McBride and Train lead vocalist Pat Monahan about their collaborations on songs as diverse as the band’s Grammy-winning “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” and her “Independence Day.”

CMT: How were you guys approached about this show? And what makes this a good fit?

McBride: I think we were probably simultaneously approached about singing together, and I was really excited because Pat’s such a great singer. I love their music. And so it’s real fun for me to get to do something different like this.

Monahan: Yeah, CMT Crossroads has been something I’ve wanted to do for years. There has been a lot of anticipating … who’s right. It’s hard because it’s better to wait for the right fit than do it and then maybe it’s not the right fit. I’m so glad that it hasn’t happened until now because I think that Martina is as good as it gets. Not just with singing but as such a credible artist in not just country music, but music in general. And so, as part of Train, we’re all really proud to be here.

Let’s talk about the preparation going in. How challenging was it to find a set list that everybody was cool with?

McBride: It really happened pretty easily. We came up with, what, about four songs a piece?

Monahan: Mmm-hmm.

McBride: And I said, “I’ll sing whatever you want to sing.” (laughing) I think as artists, we were so thrilled to be singing together. We’re fans of each other’s music, so it’s pretty easy. The hardest part was narrowing it down really.

Monahan: Yeah, the hard part was the cover songs that we each chose — and we’re not doing either one of them. By the time we got to being onstage, it became clear that there was a much more exciting song to do. Martina made a recommendation and it was perfect for us because we knew the song. … It’s a Faces song called “Stay With Me.”

How was that one chosen?

McBride: I’ve always wanted to sing that song. I’ve always loved it. Right before we went into rehearsal, I went over to Pat’s bus and said, “What about this song?” And he said, “Oh, we know that song.”

Monahan: I wanted to do a 15-minute version of [Pink Floyd's] “Comfortably Numb” but just figured that wasn’t … . (laughing) Can you imagine?

It must be a neat thing to hear yourselves sing together for the first time.

Monahan: (to McBride) Well, your band is great so that’s always great to play great songs with a great band. Singing Martina’s songs … I just want to do a good job because she’s so great at it. That was my only concern. I want to do something so that you’re psyched about it. And when Martina sang Train songs, I was like, “Damn, I wish she was there when we were making the record.” There’s a particular song called “Marry Me” that, during today’s rehearsal, I almost cried during the first part, and I was like … (pretending to cry) “Why do you do this to me?!”

McBride: For me, it’s so cool to hear Pat sing my songs because he has a whole different way of phrasing them and different melodies. I sometimes just get lost listening to that. I’m going to steal some of those by the way.

Monahan: You know, as long as you write me a check, I don’t care. (laughing)

Is there any anxiety leading up to the performance? Pat, I overheard you saying that you’re trying to hit the note on “A Broken Wing.”

Monahan: I don’t know if you’ve heard some of the notes she can hit, but I couldn’t hear half of ‘em. … In fact, I asked if she would be cool with playing that song and a couple of others. I guess I’m not nervous, but once that first song is done, I’ll probably feel more comfortable. The first song is “Wrong Baby Wrong.” It’s super up-tempo and really fun. It’s a great icebreaker. Once we’re in the middle of that, I’ll just be like, “Oh, OK, great!”

McBride: Exactly. At rehearsal, we were thrown together on the stage, and the first song was “A Broken Wing,” which is hard for me to start with. I was like, “Can we please start with a different song?” I usually warm up to that one. But now having spent some time together, rehearsal went really well, and so I’m more relaxed.

CMT: Martina, is there a certain Train song that made you say, “I’d love to do that one”?

McBride: Honestly, I hate to sound like a huge fan, but all of them! “Drops of Jupiter,” I’m so thrilled about singing and, of course, “Hey Soul Sister” is so much fun. And “Calling All Angels” and the song “Marry Me,” which I hadn’t actually heard until it showed up on the list. And it’s so beautiful.

Monahan: Yeah, you sing it better than, than I did.

McBride: No.

Monahan: Kind of bummed me out a little bit. I’ll be real honest with you!