Lee Ann Womack on Country Music Then and Now

Observations on Made-Up, Watered-Down Versions

When Cowboys & Indians magazine had a chance to talk with Lee Ann Womack recently, they hit all the currently controversial notes — adult musical themes, women on the radio and why country isn’t country anymore.

So what did she have to say? A little bit of everything.

On what country music is to her:

“It’s the kind of country music that I grew up with,” she said. “They were songs about real life instead of songs that sound like they’re being made up. I like steel guitars and fiddles. Nashville country music used to be its own thing. Now it has become a watered-down version of something else. Country music is still country music, but Music Row is not that anymore.”

On missing the believable adult themes of country music:

“When George Jones sang about drinking, you got the feeling that he was sorry about it. To me, that’s a real drinking song. There’s an art to Jones or Paycheck or whomever, there’s a feeling of remorse. Now it feels like it’s always party time,” she said, also noting that it’s funny “to see people approaching middle age singing juvenile stuff.”

On advice for female artists:

“I would say, at least in my career, that every time I went with my gut, I was never sorry,” she said. “You’d think I’d realized that along the way. I did some things that were commercial successes, but the stuff I did from the gut, I loved and never regretted. Go with your gut and don’t give up. I’ve known so many young female artists that get discouraged. But when a female artist like Miranda or Taylor makes it, they hit it out of the park.”

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