The Highwomen Refuse To Do “Men Suck” Songs

The Songs They Left Out Are What Pull You In

There are so many life lessons in the new Esquire interview with country’s new supergroup the Highwomen. But what I truly loved learning about was how the four women — Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby — chose the songs for their debut album. And how they decided what kinds of songs they didn’t want to record.

When the magazine asked what was guiding the song choice, all four women had something to say.

“So many things like this can go wrong. You don’t have a focal point, or they become too cheesy or earnest, or you don’t know the theme of the record. But top to bottom, our record is very much about women’s stories,” Morris explained. “There’s not really a whole lot of pining for a lover or unrequited love. It’s all really relatable, whether you’re a man or a woman listening to them.”

“We didn’t want to do the ’men suck!’ kind of thing,” Hemby added.

“We did say, ’We are not going to do sassy music on this.’ And what I gathered from y’all was about wanting to be inclusive. So maybe in our subconscious, or whatever you want to call it, we knew that that was what we were trying to do,” Shires said. (That said, the group did collaborate with Miranda Lambert, the Queen of Country Sass, for one song on the album.)

And lastly, Carlile shared her perspective on how they arrived at the 12 songs that landed on the self-titled debut.

“That’s what Hemby does so well, I think. She’s never being quiet because she doesn’t have anything to say, she’s gathering who you are and what you want to say and your thoughts and then she’s going to find a way to help you say that. So these phone conversations were like therapy sessions, really,” Carlile said. “We were just talking about women; women’s stories and women in country music, women in Nashville, girls we knew and the fights that they had. The next thing you know, it’s like, boom, “Crowded Table,” boom, “Redesigning Women.” We were spinning.

The second best highlight from the story was Morris talking about how, when she was a kid, her summer camp counselor woke up all the campers up with the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces.”

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