At 38 years old and with the help of her husband Brendan McLoughlin and a long stretch of pandemic-forced time at home, Miranda Lambert has learned she doesn't have to be miserable to write sad songs.
Lambert documented much of the couple's at-home lockdown on social media. There was cooking and laundry and relaxing – and all of it was lighthearted and happy.
"It's a very good place to get to," Lambert told People. "It taught me that you don't have to be tortured to write great songs or sad songs."
She believes that's a common misconception and an awful way to live.
"I think a lot of us, especially when we're young, we live every sad thing we write, which is a terrible way to go," she explained. "After a while, you go, 'I can still put myself in places and be characters without having to live it."
Lambert said artists often live in darkness because they use it for art. But, she learned it doesn't have to be that way.
"At some point, it's like, 'I can actually be happy and be functioning and laughing and get in a writing room and go somewhere else in my mind or my heart, you know?" she said. "I think I've learned that finally over the last couple of years."
The lesson inspired "Carousel," a song from Lambert's new album "Palomino" that is out now. She wrote "Carousel" with Natalie Hemby and Luke Dick and calls it a "once in a lifetime" song.
"It's like a 'House That Built Me' feeling moment musically," she said. "The beauty in the story being like how amazing this past life was for this woman, but then the beauty in finding a whole new life after the circus is left town. I feel like everything ends at some point. How do you do it gracefully, and how do you not make it feel just like an ending but a beginning of something new?"
The album is also home to Lambert's new single, "If I Was A Cowboy," which she released on her team's advice. Lambert said she's too close to the album to depend on herself to make those types of decisions.
"It's got a sing-along vibe," she said. "It's kind of a mid-tempo and kind of makes you feel like driving. I feel like the whole record makes you feel like driving. I don't ever know what to put out first. I'm so inside of the record; it's hard to pick."