The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand by You” may be the perfect song for CMT Crossroads: The Pretenders and Faith Hill Live From Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam . The episode, which teams the pioneering rock band with soulful country superstar Faith Hill, will premiere live from Grand Prairie, Texas, on Saturday (Feb. 5) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Just a few days prior to the performance, the self-proclaimed “Mississippi Girl” talked with CMT Insider producer Tim Hardiman about singing with rock legend Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, working on a new album and making sure she’s keeping it real.
CMT: Why was it compelling for you to join forces with Chrissie and the Pretenders on CMT Crossroads? Did they have a big impact on you when you were growing up?
Hill: I definitely listened to the Pretenders when I was growing up. “Brass in Pocket,” my gosh, when I was in high school, that was like the big anthem. I think that’s such great music. She has such a distinctive voice and is a stylist. Her writing is similar to country music writing, in a way. If you get down into the lyrics of these songs, it’s really kind of a little reminiscent of Johnny Cash in some parts. … She has a great energy and a nice edge, but yet has a real appreciation for country music. I mean, she’s from Akron, Ohio (laughs), which she sings proudly about in one of her songs. It’s gonna be fun. I’m looking forward to it.
How do you go about picking that set list? Have you already hammered that out?
We have. We have hammered the set list out. I won’t reveal all of it right now, but the two for sure are “Brass in Pocket” and “I’ll Stand by You,” which I think is one of the greatest songs ever written. I’m really excited to sing that song, as well.
Are you still working on your next album?
Yes. Right in the middle of it. Smack dab in the middle. We haven’t made it to the studio yet, but it’s coming.
What was it like to get back in that process of picking songs to record? It’s been six years since the last album, so what was it like kind of re-entering that world?
I’ve actually been in the studio a couple of times in the last six years. I’m just trying to find that spark, that thing that’s exciting for me … and that feels inspired and true and honest, from an honest place. It’s been a creative journey. I actually have been in the studio, but no one’s really heard anything. (laughs) But that’s going to be the nice part — to actually get it finished and get it out there for people to hear.
Are you anxious for people to hear what you’ve been working on?
I’m not anxious yet, because it’s not finished yet. (laughs) But when it comes closer to the time, I will definitely be. … I’m ready to be onstage. To do this show on Saturday night just gives me the bug again. I’ve never lost that part of it.
Why was it important for you to take that time off in between albums?
I didn’t really intend to take this much time off in between albums. Like I say, I have actually recorded possibly a couple of albums in the six years. But it’s important for it to be the right thing for me musically. It’s just the process. It’s like a rediscovery. And in the midst of rediscovery, it just takes time. I didn’t even realize it had been that long, to be honest with you, until someone told me that. And I even argued with them. At the time it was five years, and I said, “It’s not been five years since I had a record!” “Yeah, it has been.” (laughing). But that’s OK. I want it to be really good and represent me. I want it to be real.