Carrie Underwood Discusses Anxieties, ‘Blown Away’ and Life as a Wildflower
Do you need evidence that Carrie Underwood is still just a small town girl from Checotah, Okla.? Check out her Twitter page. The singer was one of the last holdouts to join, but now says she appreciates being able to jostle with her fans and followers. She doesn’t stalk anyone — most of the 26 people she follows, she knows — and hasn’t become addicted to the social media site just yet. Her favorite part? Watching her number of followers get bigger and bigger… and bigger.
Be honest with yourself. When you first joined MySpace, or Facebook, or Twitter, wasn’t that the coolest thing? Sure, it’s a little narcissistic, but there is a tiny amount of enjoyment to be had from passing 100, 1,000 or 200K followers (in Underwood’s case). The famously talented and beautiful singer is not above these little pleasures. The things that give her thrills — hearing her song on the radio for the first time or a sweet compliment — are the things that would make us all feel the same way. Sure, she’s got millions of dollars, but Underwood still has insecurities and moments of self-doubt. She hasn’t yet reached that point where she feels like she belongs or deserves this life.
“I think that’s something I’m still working towards,” Underwood tells Taste of Country. “I mean I love being on stage but there is always to me, deep in the pit of my stomach, I’m thinking Oh my gosh. Are they gonna like me?’”
‘Blown Away,’ in stores May 1, is Underwood’s fourth studio album and her first in almost three years. Instead of subscribing to the Nashville grind of record, promote, tour and repeat, country’s original ‘American Idol’ chooses to take time off to live life in between days of fame. She won’t be seriously touring until fall 2012, because July and August are the only months she gets to spend with husband Mike Fisher.
“Summers are very important to us and things are about to pick up a lot for me anyway, with the album release stuff and his (NHL) playoffs so we’re going to cherish that time,” she says, adding, “then I’ll see him in 2013 I think.”
It’d be fair to describe the songs on ‘Blown Away’ as dark and theatrical. The title-track is about getting revenge on an abusive, alcoholic father, and ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ is about a wife and a mistress who conspire to get even with the man who betrayed them. These are hardly pages from Underwood’s personal diary, but she’s become a master of invention — an actress with the voice of an angel.
You wrote eight of the 14 songs on ‘Blown Away.’ Is it fair to assume that this is your most personal album to date?
As far as working on it, yes. But subject matter — you know I always look for ways to play a character and step out of myself to make music. As far as subject matter I’d say most of the songs aren’t that personal to me. I love making up characters and kind of having fun in a different kind of way.
What do you have to do to sort of “get into character” to record or perform songs like ‘Blown Away,’ ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ or even ‘Last Name’?
You don’t have to follow any specific rules or anything. Like in ‘Two Black Cadillacs,’ it really is a mini-movie. We had to condense quite a bit and try to get from Point A to Point B to Point C, back to Point A and try to make it all make sense — and that was the most fun part of it. It’s nice to be challenged like that and see where you can take things and how far you can stretch things and still have it all work.
Are there one or two songs from the album that are biographical?
Definitely. ‘Good in Goodbye’ is one. I feel like everybody can relate to this in some way. You have those people in your life that were such a huge part of your life at one point. And you love this guy or this girl or whatever, and at the time, when it all ended, it seemed like the worst thing in the world, like you were never gonna recover. No,w my life is wonderful and I have this perfect husband and we have this great life together and if it had worked out the way I wanted it to years ago then I wouldn’t be here.
Do you care to share who that song is about?
I never would want to mess with anyone’s life at this point. I feel like as a writer every song is loosely based on somebody or very not loosely based on someone. But I don’t know. I would never do that to somebody. The whole point of that song especially is that your non-involvement now is awesome, and they’ve moved on and I’ve moved on and thank God we both did because our lives are so much better.
‘Forever Changed’ (about a mother-daughter relationship) is another one that sounds very personal. Will you be able to get through that song without crying?
I haven’t thus far [laughs]. When I was recording it, it was a fine line in being in the studio pouring my heart into, but still trying to think about what I needed to buy at the grocery store later, because if I really actually listened to myself I’d have to cut out mid-song and we’d have to start all over again. It was hard and we’ve done rehearsal lately, getting the band to know it and I have not been able to make it through it yet. So we’ll see.
The problem is, sometimes performances like that make for really good radio singles. And when they’re singles, you have to play them live every night.
I know. Everything we’re doing, letting people hear these songs and having little listening parties here and there to get people familiar with it and share what we’ve been working so hard on … I’m like “Please don’t play that one.” I want people to like it, but I want them to like it in their own private corner, you know. So it really does scare me that that would actually become a single. I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it does.
Have you played the entire album for your husband yet?
I think he’s heard it, but I don’t think he’s heard it front to back. I think he’s heard everything, but out of context.
What are his favorite songs?
He likes ‘Two Black Cadillacs,’ which kind of surprised me because he’s a really conservative guy. He would love it if I just sang love songs or I started some awesome career in Christian music. He would absolutely love that. So that was a little bit out of his … I was like “Really? You like it? I didn’t think you would.” But he likes the drama I think.
Are you the wildflower in the relationship?
I think so. He’s just that strong — I mean, he grew up pretty much like I did, he just grew up in Canada, you know. Hard-working parents and he always worked hard for everything that he got, and worked hard to be in the NHL and he still works hard now. He’s quiet and strong and I definitely am the loudmouth, listens-to-her-music-too-loud kind of wife.
We caught you on your first major tour with Kenny Chesney in 2006, and then not again until early last year. We were really blown away by not only how good you are on stage, but how far you’ve come as a live performer. We don’t know that anybody really gives you credit for that.
Well thank you. I think after coming off of ‘American Idol’ … people kind of expect you to just be awesome all the time, and we’re still learning. I had a lot of stage experience, but it was in a 200-seat theater, you know — it wasn’t thousands of people in front of me. So practice really does make you better in being able to be on stage and sing in front of all those people. I feel like I’m vocally better. I feel like I’m better on stage. I feel like everything about me musically is better, like light years better than it was seven years ago when I won ‘Idol.’
Is there an artist that has really helped you out throughout your career?
Brad Paisley has always been really great to me, and that’s no secret. Being on tour with him is like, “This is what I want to be like to my people when I’m on tour someday.” He’s just a great guy and he’s definitely somebody I know right now if I needed advice on something musically or something that’s going on in my career or whatever I could call him up and ask him and he’d totally be cool about it and give me good advice.