Kacey Musgraves: Glad to Have Lyrical Substance Back

It was all about vintage — for Kacey Musgraves, anyway. At Tuesday night’s (Nov. 5) BMI Country Awards , where the genre’s top songwriters are celebrated, she was wearing a vintage Gucci sequined mini-shift dress and gold vintage Louis Vuitton pumps. So naturally, our conversation leaned a little vintage. Even when we talked about the music.

When I asked Musgraves about the state of country music right now, she said she thinks — and hopes — story songs are coming back.

“I feel like we’re getting back to a time period where substance is important,” she said. “For a while, maybe it was more popular for you to have just a pretty face or a good voice. But I love the fact that we are coming back to a time of lyrical substance.”

And she wasn’t just talking about her own music, which is very lyrically substantial, but that of her friend and co-writer Brandy Clark.

“She is so incredible because her turn of phrase and her wit, and her humor is dark and gritty, but it turns out beautiful,” Musgraves said. “She’s part of some really amazing songs right now.”

But Musgraves’ own music isn’t too shabby. She is nominated for six CMA Awards at Wednesday night’s ceremony in Nashville. Regardless of how many trophies she might take home, when she’s writing songs, she knows right away if she has a winner.

“If it makes me feel something immediately, I know it’s a good song,” she said. “Good songs will be hits. Truthful songs will be hits. If you pour yourself into it and people connect with it — and you’re not just doing something because radio might like it but because it’s natural to you — then it’s undeniably a hit.”

Musgraves’ new single “Follow Your Arrow” is one such song.

“The reaction to that song in our live show is amazing,” she said. “Like amazing amazing. We save it for the end, and people get so fired up when they hear that lick. They’re doing the ‘heys’ and the ‘yeahs.’ We have people aged 16 to 60, and they’re all singing the words.

“As a songwriter, you dream of connecting with people through words and music and things that came out of your head. To have that coming back to me is really gratifying.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.