The Brandy Clark You Didn’t See on Ellen

Brandy Clark was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday (March 24). And while I’m pretty sure DeGeneres would have loved to have Clark sit down for a chat, all she had time for was one performance.

But if they had the chance to talk, I think the two could have covered a lot of territory. I know, because I had the chance to do that with Clark the last time she was in Chicago on Jennifer Nettles’ tour. Clark has some great stories and a fresh perspective on things. So if they’d had time, I think DeGeneres and Clark might have touched on some of the same things we talked about.

Where Clark’s creativity took root: “When I was in high school, I worked on a Christmas tree farm. So you’re out there all day long with nothing but your mind. So I would take shows from TV and come up with different plot lines. That’s how I used my imagination for songs, too. I don’t even know what some of these women in my songs look like, but I know exactly what the kitchen that they’re sitting in looks like.”

How living life leads to songs: “Being on road for this tour, sometimes for a month solid, means I’m writing less. But since I don’t have time to write, I’m listening for ideas instead. When you’re in constant output mode, you don’t get to fill the well as much. So I want to use this time to fill that well back up.”

The importance of staying focused: “Some people can write whatever song they need to write. I really only have a couple of things I can do well. In some ways, that’s a blessing. In some ways that’s a curse. A lot of artists fail just because they can’t pick a direction.”

Why pride matters in country: “[Songwriter] Don Schlitz once said, ’You can’t write country music looking down your nose at it.’ And it bothers me that sometimes we are ashamed of country music. We have a responsibility to be proud of this music. I loved country music so much that I left everyone I knew and loved and moved to Nashville all the way from Washington State.”

Who made Clark go for the heart: “Garth Brooks always made music for your heart. And that heart meter is huge, even in his songs like ’That Summer.’ Even though that song is up-tempo, it hits you in a way that a ballad usually would.”

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