Miranda Lambert wanted to run something by her parents before preparing to release her brand-new album, Platinum.
“I was really excited to play ’Automatic’ for mom and dad because I felt like it was a little bit of a tribute to how they raised me and what made me who I am,” she said during a recent visit to CMT’s offices in Nashville. “They both identified with some of the references in it, like laundry on the line and sun tea, because that’s part of my childhood.”
Although she’s only 30 years old, Lambert embraced that sense of nostalgia for “Automatic,” the lead single from Platinum, her new album which will be released Tuesday (June 3). She’ll team up with Carrie Underwood for “Somethin’ Bad,” perhaps the boldest song on the album, during the CMT Music Awards on Wednesday night.
In the first part of this two-part interview, Lambert reminisced about her early days in music, her adjustment to becoming famous and surprises that new fans will find on Platinum.
CMT: When I heard you sing about paying your dues and putting in the work in “Automatic,” it reminded me of your own story. When you look back on that time in your career, what do you think about? What are some of the images that come to mind?
Lambert: I think about driving around in an Expedition and playing at bars, then driving around in a crappy motorhome that broke down once a week, just keeping going because the dream was so strong, I couldn’t stop.
I made these Texas cowboy hats — I would buy these plain ol’ Jane cowboy hats and paint them like Texas’ flag. And at bars I played in, I would ask the bartender to save bottle caps for me and just give them a tip, so I’d have these huge, giant tubs of bottle caps when I’d leave a gig. I’d crimp the caps around the edge. … I remember having blisters all over my hands one day, and I’m like, “I’m not gonna make these anymore,” and people asked for them, so I’d keep on going.
Just little stuff, that’s the memories that you’re like, “Well, those memories are kinda what got me here.” It does take work, but the reward is so much better when you worked for it.
So did you sell those hats at your merch table?
I sold them for gas money to get home, yes. (laughs)
So you’ve had a good head for business long before you had a record deal. When I heard the songs “Girls” and “Platinum” and “Little Red Wagon,” they all reminded me of women I know. But do you find that guys are just as interested in what you’re singing about? Do they come up and ask you about the songs as much as a woman would?
A few guys have mentioned that they feel like they’re learning about women through this record. And it’s not so much just speaking from a woman’s point of view, but it’s letting guys inside our head a little bit, which might be a scary place. You might not want to be in our head, but … (laughs)
I feel like it’s less about screaming about it but more introspective and talking about some of the harder issues to talk about … but also some of the fun stuff to talk about. It’s all in here, and it’s not all female stuff. I mean, there are some songs on there that are universal to everyone, too.
I thought of the album as like a playbook. A guy could listen to it and kind of figure out what’s in a woman’s head sometimes.
Right, and then run away. (laughs)
On “Priscilla,” you tackle the topic of fame with a sense of humor. Is there anything a person can do, in your situation, to prepare for that level of fame?
I wish there was a handbook someone hands you when you start your career that has chapters so that you can turn a page whenever you hit a new spot. But there isn’t, and it sort of comes out of nowhere sometimes. Things hit you out of nowhere at different times in your career — and in your marriage, too. So it’s something you have to get used to.
With Blake and I and all the things that have been going on with us and tabloids and this new kind of level that we’re at … it just came out of nowhere a little bit, and you had to adjust to it a little bit. Not just us but our family and adjusting as a couple.
“Priscilla” just addresses it … in a smart way and in a fun way. I never could have written this song, but that’s why I love it so much. I think it was written so well and really has a good perspective on what it’s like.
When people hear this record, what do you hope they learn about you?
Well, they’re gonna learn a lot. (laughs) … Some moments are pretty raw, and some moments are, you know, funny. I feel like I have a little more humor in this record than ever before, and that’s a lot attributed to Blake because he’s hilarious and has such a great sense of humor and such a great disposition, and he really rubs off on me in that area. And I need it because I’ll take myself way too seriously sometimes and just be too intense, I think.
So those elements may be a surprise to some people, especially if they’ve never heard the past records. But also I feel like this album, Platinum, is setting up for where I’m headed as an artist for the next phase of my career and the next phase of me as a woman. It’s setting up for what I’m getting into. And I don’t really know what that is exactly, but I feel like I’m headed in a good direction.
Read the second part of Lambert’s interview on Tuesday on CMT.com.